27 July 2010

Tribune Tuesday: A Plucky Woman

29 October 1894

Mrs. Fred Gatter and her Woful [sic] Accident, [sic]

Mrs. Fred Gatter, the victim of the unfortunate shooting accident at Spanish Valley, which necessitated the amputation of her left leg above the knee, has returned to this city and is now resting quietly at her home, 540 Twenty-third street. The accident took place four weeks ago last Monday, and Mrs. Gatter is now progressing favorably toward health.

The main features of the accident have already been published in THE TRIBUNE, one of which was that five and a half hours elapsed from the time of the shooting until Dr. S. McCurdy of St. Helena, twenty miles distant, arrived at her side, after a remarkable drive over the mountain. During those hours it was a fight between the patient and death. When she saw how badly she had been wounded the thought occurred to her, she said, that it would require only half an hour for her to bleed to death. But she made up her mind that she would not die, and kept this resolution during the long interval, notwithstanding that she saw the blood gradually flowing from the limb despite the fact that ligatures had been placed around it in three pieces.

One of these bands during all these hours was kept tight by Fred Gatter, her husband who never allowed the ends of the ligature to leave his hands. The strain was most exhausting and Mr. Gatter was kept from fainting only by frequent applications of cold water to his head.

When at length the surgeon arrived, Mrs. Gatter was so faint that life, it was thought, could not be maintained, to say nothing of surviving the shock of amputating the limb. Indeed, after chloroform had been administered, Mrs. Gatters's pulse could not be felt. Stimulants, however, restored circulation and this patient survived the operation and shock with wonderful heroism.

The amputation was accomplished by Dr. McCurdy with no professional assistance, because no one could be obtained and the successful and tender manner in which he performed the important work has been the subject of comment that section of the country ever since.

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