Are you interested in some medical industry facts regarding history and development, rather than a collection of mutation cases? Here are 12 medical industry facts that may surprise you, or give you some food for thought.

1. Incubating Babies

The first incubator showcased in 1896 by Dr Martin Couney. Previously, 36% of all infant deaths were due to prematurity. With the advent of incubation, Couney raised the survival rate to around 90%. Go Couney!

2. The First Stethoscope

In 1816, for some unknown reason, Dr Rene Laennec used a rolled-up tube of paper to listen to his young female patient’s heartbeat. It worked like an ear trumpet to amplify the sound, and eventually led to the stethoscope.

3. Bloodless Eyes

The only place in the body that doesn’t contain blood is the cornea of the eye – oxygen from the surroundings diffuses directly into it. The rest of the eye is, of course, connected to our veins and arteries.

4. Early Surgery

One of the first surgeries ever performed (to our knowledge) was to remove cataracts. The surgery was conducted around 600 BC, with instructions for this procedure appearing in the Sushrata Samhita – one of the oldest medical textbooks.

5. Sleeping Sniffer

When we sleep, our sense of smell is given lowest priority (under hearing, for example) therefore we likely won’t be woken by a smell, even of fire. We are much more likely to wake from a sudden increase in sound or light.

6. Cleaning Kidneys

The first successful dialysis procedure was in 1945, whereby a rudimentary dialyser brought a woman out of a uremic coma. More than two million people across the globe receive regular dialysis treatments.

7. The C Word

South Africa is ranked 50th on the World Cancer Research Fund’s list of countries with the highest cancer diagnosis rates. More than 100 000 South Africans are diagnosed yearly. One in four South Africans have either been diagnosed, or are personally attached to someone who has been diagnosed with cancer!

8. The Telephone Aided the Hearing Impaired

It might sound counterintuitive, but Thomas Edison’s creation of the carbon transmitter to amplify telephonic signals and, therefore, the voices of speakers, laid the foundation for the first electronic hearing aids in 1902.

9. Extreme X-Rays

Primitive x-ray machines were founded and developed around 1890 by German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen, but did you know they (unknowingly) exposed patients to nearly 1500 times more harmful radiation in doing so?

10. Demo Defibrillators

The first defibrillation of a human heart was done during surgery, using the current from an examination lamp and some copper rods! Shocking stuff.

11. Cosmic Flu?

Flu’s full name: influenza is adapted from Medieval Latin influentia meaning ‘influence of the stars’, as people once believed only the cosmos could exact such devastation.

From early medical textbooks to first inventions, every element of medical history has led us to this point. Without the past, we could not possibly seek to strive for a bright, innovative future in medical technology!