Sir Frederick Treves: The Royal Surgeon Who Saved King Edward VII

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History is full of heroes, whose daring feats and bravery have changed the outcome of battles, saved innocent lives from natural disasters, and stood up against oppressive governments. Heroes wear many different uniforms, or no uniform at all, and can be found making the world a better place from many different walks of life. Sir Frederick Treves would be one of these heroes from history, and his trusty weapon was a stethoscope. 

Treves was a skilled surgeon that began his medical practice after becoming certified in 1878. He became so well-known for the surgical successes that he began getting the attention of government leaders. He was made Surgeon Extraordinary by Queen Victoria, cementing his reputation among the royals as the doctor you'd want in dire times.

Sir Frederick Treves specialized in abdominal surgeries. Harley Street tells of how this skilled surgeon primarily worked out of the London Hospital and would perform the first appendectomy in England in 1888. Before this surgery was able to be performed, those unfortunate souls whose appendices burst would suffer from a slow and very agonizing death. It would be Treves' know-how in this area that would eventually lead to him saving the life of the King of England. Emergency surgery would be performed just before the coronation of King Edward VII, forever shapi g royal history.

The King was suffering from acute appendicitis and was facing death

Two days before the coronation of Edward VII, the monarch fell ill with a severe bout of appendicitis (per Hektoen International). If any surgery was to be performed, it would surely delay this important event, of which many world leaders were already in London to attend. But talking Edward into this procedure wasn't going to be an easy task.

Harley Street tells of how the King was wary of having surgery and had to be talked into it by Treves. The surgeon put it to the royal leader this way; there will either be a coronation or a funeral, and left it up to the King to decide. His royal majesty chose the former.

Thankfully, the surgery was a success. King Edward VII was officially coronated soon after and would call for the entirety of the British Empire to toast the doctor who saved his life.

Sir Frederick had a full career that included attending to Joseph Merrick

It wouldn't just be saving a monarch's life that would make Treves life one worth examining. Before he ever cut into the king he volunteered his services in the Second Boer War in South Africa. Treves worked in one of the makeshift field hospitals, tending to and saving the lives of the many wounded who were admitted under his care. Treves even wrote a book about the experience, called "The Tale of a Field Hospital" (per Amazon).

But before he ventured that far south, Treves would make history as the doctor who rescued Joseph Merrick from a life of doom and ridicule. Merrick, more commonly known as "The Elephant Man," had a rare condition that led to large tumors developing and growing all over his body. He spent a life as a caged attraction in sideshows before eventually living in the store of a London shopkeeper (per United Church of God). The entrepreneur would charge admission to see Merrick, which is where Treves comes in. 

He worked to get Merrick admitted to the London Hospital so that he could study his condition and give him a better life away from being a sideshow attraction. Merrick's final years were spent under the gentle care of the hospital, where he received royal visitors that would include the queen. Treves was said to be the only real friend that Merrick ever had, showing that the good doctor was perhaps as good of a human being as he was a surgeon.