Henry Edmund Gaskin Boyle (1875-1941)
Henry Boyle was a pioneering anaesthetist. Born in Barbados; he qualified MRCS LRCP from St Bartholomew’s Hospital London. Known as "Cocky" to his friends, he is best remembered for the development of early anaesthetic machines. Always more interested in the practical rather than the purely scientific side of his speciality, he was quick to see how each new advance could best be put to practical service. 205
At first, he used the American Gwathmey machine, but he found that they kept breaking down. He went about designing his own version of the machine and his continuous flow machines included cylinders for the gases.
Even until recently, an anaesthesia machine for administering general anaesthesia would often be referred to as a “Boyle’s Machine” in honour of his contribution in this field. His design included not only cylinders for medical oxygen, but nitrous oxide and a “Boyle’s Bottle” to vaporize diethyl ether.
His other contribution to Anaesthesia included the Boyle-Davis gag, which is still used today during tonsillectomy operations.
He died at the age of 66, at the end of a long and particularly distressing illness.
I always wondered why the controls were on the left on today’s machines it is because Boyle was left handed, as a result, anaesthetic machines available all over the world are designed with controls and switches meant for a left-handed user.
“Life is pain and the enjoyment of love is an anaesthetic.” 206