The Hole

alexis-st-martin.jpg

Who is this elderly, skinny, bare-chested man?(Although an old man in this picture, he was 28 at the time of his accident)  It is Alexis St. Martin, a man we learned about this week in our study on nutrition.  I found his story to be fascinating and through events that took place in his life, some great breakthroughs were made in medical science.  In 1822, Alexis experienced the misfortune of having a gun accidentally fire at him from a very close range.  This gunshot blasted a hole in his side, which everyone that saw the accident, assumed would be a fatal wound.  A nearby physician in the village of Mackinac Island, Michigan territory, was called upon to attend to Alexis.  He did what he could to help the man, but felt certain that the man would die, and he told the shopkeeper(where the accident took place) that he would return in an hour.  To Dr. Beaumont’s amazement, the man still lived and continued to improve slowly under the doctor’s care.  After close to a year and several surgeries,  Alexis was left with a small hole in his stomach that would not close up.  Dr. Beaumont made a “lint plug” to keep inside the hole.  This hole, which was large enough for the doctor to insert his finger into, would remain with Alexis for the rest of his life.  The story went on to tell how Dr. Beaumont used Alexis as a “human guinea pig” to conduct experiments with the hope of learning more about the digestion process.  Dr. Beaumont would take little bits of food, such as beef, salt pork or potato, tie them to a silk string and insert them into Alexis’ stomach, via the hole.  He would then pull the foods out after a certain amount of time to see how much they had digested.  He learned that not all food digests at the same rate and that the stomach can digest more than one food at a time.  He was even able to extract some gastric juice from Alexis’ stomach and perform experiments with the gastric juice outside the stomach.  Food would digest outside the stomach when placed in a tube with the gastric juice but at a much slower rate.   Once, in his quest to find out what gastric juice really was, he tasted a drop of it on his tongue.  (gag a maggot!) Anyway, I thought it was interesting that in spite of this man’s accident and all the suffering that was involved, understanding was gained in the field of medicine that would greatly benefit mankind.  As I thought of Alexis St. Martin and what he endured, my mind went back to the old, old story of that “man from Galillee” who was pierced in his hands and feet and endured an agonizing death on the cross.  I’m so glad that Jesus Christ made the ultimate sacrifice to benefit man not only in this life, but throughout all eternity, to whomsoever will obey and follow the gospel. 

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4 thoughts on “The Hole

  1. What a fascinating account! Thanks for taking the time to record it. I especially appreciate your remarks at the end about what Jesus endured for our benefit.

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