Celebrating the First Public Demonstration of Ether at Massachusetts General Hospital

On October 16, 1846, the first public demonstration of ether anesthesia was performed, making pain-free surgery possible. This historical event took place in the 4th floor amphitheatre of the Bullfinch Building at Mass General. The protagonists were William Morton, a dentist from Hartford, CT, who came up with the idea of administering ether to a patient, Gilbert Abbott, so that Mass General surgeon, John Collins Warren, could painlessly remove a tumor from Mr. Abbott’s neck. The success of this public demonstration marked the birth of anesthesiology and the transformation of surgery from butchery and trauma to a humane life-altering therapy. The amphitheatre, now known as the Ether Dome, is a national historical monument.

At Mass General, which opened its doors in 1821, only one operation a week was performed in the years preceding the ether demonstration. After this historic event, operations not only increased significantly, but Dr. Morton's work spread quickly throughout the world and forever changed the surgical experience of patients.

Our Two-Day Virtual Event

Each year, on October 16, we celebrate the employees whose time at Mass General is a multiple of five years. In addition, this year, we are planning a two-day virtual celebration on October 15 and October 16, 2021 to commemorate the first public demonstration of anesthesia and to celebrate Mass General's Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine (DACCPM). The theme of the celebration will be, “The Mass General DACCPM Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.”

The event will include an exciting and comprehensive overview of 175 years of ether anesthesia as well as a look into the future of the field.


Friday, October 15, 2021

Time: 5:00 - 7:00 pm ET

  1. Highlights from the 175 Year History of Ether Anesthesia
  2. Celebrating Today: A Look Inside the Department of Anesthesia at Mass General
Saturday, October 16, 2021

Time: 9:00 am - 12:00 pm ET

  1. The Broad Impact of the DACCPM on Anesthesiology Today
  2. The DACCPM and the Future of Anesthesiology

How to Register

Register for this virtual event

Registered guests will be emailed a link to access the event in advance of the event date.