William Thomas Green Morton was an American dentist who first publicly demonstrated the use of inhaled ether as a surgical anesthetic in September 1846. The promotion of Morton's claim to have been the discoverer of anesthesia became an obsession of his until he died in 1868 at the age of 48.

Morton had first performed a painless tooth extraction after administering ether to a patient on September 30, 1846. Upon reading a favorable newspaper account of this event, Boston surgeon Henry Jacob Bigelow arranged for what has become the famous demonstration of ether on October 16, 1846 at the operating theater of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Then, the news of how ether was used on October 16, 1846 spread rapidly around the world; and, the first recorded use of ether in Great Britain by Dr. Robert Liston at University College Hospital on December 21,1846 was next recorded.

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