GREAT IRISH SCIENTIST FRANCIS RYND (1801 - 1861).

April 08, 2017


Francis Rynd was born in Dublin in 1801, to James Rynd and his third wife, Hester Fleetwood. The family estate at Ryndville Castle, which no longer survives was close to Enfield. A large estate of more than 1,400 acres which had been in the Rynd family for generations.
Francis would have grown up in a privileged background and had a good education. He entered Trinity College at 16 years of age to study medicine. Despite this positive start, Francis was not the most studious of young men and often missed classes or hospital duties in favour of hunting trips.
He worked under Sir Philip Crampton at Dublin's Meath Hospital, where like all other staff, he was not paid, given the hospital's status as a charitable effort. Crampton realized that Francis had great potential and asked one of the young surgeons, William Porter, to look after and encourage him. Francis thrived in this arrangement and set up his private practice at 14 Hume Street, Dublin. His practice was hugely successful and served many of Dublin's nobility. Frances gained a brilliant reputation, good enough to be admitted to the exclusive Kildare Street Gentlemen's Club.
While many a lesser person would have been content treating the wealthy and prospering personally, Francis was not such an individual. Following his election to the Royal College of Surgeons in 1830, he accepted a surgical position at the Meath Hospital alongside many eminent physicians of the time, including Philip Crampton. At that time, the hospital cared for the poor of Dublin, ensuring a never-ending stream of patients, many presenting with long untreated conditions.
One such patient was a woman who presented with a long history of intense facial pain caused by neuralgia. The woman had tried the usual treatment of drinking morphine solutions to kill the pain but had not experienced any relief. In May 1844, Francis decided to try something new and designed a hollow needle to deliver liquids directly beneath the skin by gravity - the world's first hypodermic syringe. The woman experienced complete relief of the pain and the technique was soon employed quite widely in treating neuralgia and sciatica. Francis published a report of this case in the 'Dublin Medical' in March 1845. Florence Nightingale herself commented that nothing gave her relief "but a curious little new-fangled operation of putting opium under the skin". Others would later add plungers and otherwise improve upon the basic design such that Francis' technique is now used more than 16 million time annually - an average of more than two injections for every human, every year.
Francis died in unfortunate circumstances in 1861 following a traffic accident where his carriage knocked a woman down. Having checked on her well-being an incident occurred whereby some men attacked his carriage and Francis gave chase on foot. He later slumped over the reins of the carriage of died of a heart attack.


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