Newly Discovered Illustrations by Chevalier Jackson
Since the appearance of Swallow, I have learned from Dr. Nancy M. McMahon of her own father, Dr. B. Thomas McMahon’s relationship to the Chevaliers Jackson (both senior and junior), and of two wonderful medical illustrations made by Chevalier Jackson, Sr., that he gifted to her father. Dr. B. Thomas McMahon studied at the University of Pennsylvania following his emigration to the United States from Ireland. Tuberculosis led him to settle in Denver, Colorado, but not before having one lung removed in Philadelphia. McMahon was a practicing otolaryngologist who lived into his 90s. He kept the two medical illustrations made by Chevalier Jackson hanging in his office as tribute to the exquisite talents of his former teacher and colleague. Pictured here is an illustration of a foreign body (apparently a marble) caught in a bronchus.
In an e-mail correspondence with Dr. Paul F. Castellanos, Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Alabama, he confirms and explains: “This is indeed a foreign body; doubtless one of the myriad marbles aspirated and lodged into the bronchus intermedius of the right lung. A benign enough problem or so it would seem. This was in fact a slow and insidious killer. The occluded airway would loose its air as the lung would express air and be trapped from inflating again by the ‘ball valve’ effect of this most dangerous of foreign bodies. There was not much in the way of antibiotics to treat the pneumonia that would likely develop. Penicillin was available as was sulfa but if the blue ball of glass could not be extracted, it mattered not. The child would die. Jackson didn’t just notice the problem. He acted as only a man of his gifts could, to design a whole slew of instruments to extract these and many other killers, depriving them their day. What an inspiration this man will forever be.”
Dr. Castellanos also explains beautifully the significance of Chevalier Jackson’s medical illustrations from the distance of a half-century and from the point of view of a contemporary practitioner: He writes:
“The wonder of these images needs to be emphasized. He saw and drew what he only had a glimpse of. I see things like this and can gander at them as long as I would like. I suspend the larynx and can inspect it for all the time it takes for me to arrive at my opinions and care for the disease my patient suffers from. I have HD cameras, angled telescopes and high powered microscopes. He had no camera but his profoundly astute mind’s eye. His mental camera was a 100 mega pixel camera with instant recollection and inductive analysis. What a mind behind those eyes!”
Dr. Castellanos is the incoming President of the International Bronchoesophagology Society, an organization founded by Chevalier L. Jackson.