|George E. Goodfellow (Class of 1877,
University of Wooster medical school) tended wounded gunfighters
on the mean streets of Tombstone, Arizona, and pioneered the
removal of enlarged prostates. Here he rides El Rosillo,
presented to him by Mexican President Diaz in 1888 for his
services to wounded victims of the 1887 earthquake in Sonora,
Mexico. Photo courtesy Arizona Historical Society.
Serving as coroner at various times in Tombstone, his verdicts were
the stuff of Wild West legend. In an autopsy report on a gambler named
McIntire, shot in an argument over a card game, Goodfellow stated that
he had done "the necessary assessment work and found the body full
of lead, but not too badly punctured to hold whiskey."
Restless and seeking adventure, Goodfellow left Tombstone in 1886 and
joined the manhunt for Apache chieftain Geronimo, who had escaped from
the San Carlos Reservation in central Arizona. After Geronimo and his
followers surrendered, Goodfellow befriended the great warrior.
Always intrigued by how an Apache within ten feet of a sentry could
shoot an arrow without a twang of the bowstring being heard, he bet Geronimo
that the warrior couldnt do it. A tree was selected as a target
and Goodfellow shut his eyes. He didnt hear a thing. When he opened
them, there were three arrows in the tree, and Geronimo went off to prison
In 1891, at St. Marys Hospital in Tucson, Goodfellow performed
what many consider the first perineal prostatectomy, an operation he
designed to treat bladder problems cause by an enlarged prostate. Over
the next decade, he crisscrossed the U.S. demonstrating his operation
and attracting patients from all parts of the country. Dr. Hugh H. Young,
a urology professor at Johns Hopkins, learned the technique from Goodfellow.
After performing 78 such operations in almost ten years, he documented
two deaths. Survivors didnt suffer incontinence or need a catheter
Goodfellow joined his good friend, Gen. William R. Shafter ,as a volunteer
in the Cuban campaign of the Spanish-American War in 1898. Fluent in
Spanish and armed with a medicine bag of booze, Goodfellow persuaded
an inept Cuban general to surrender at Santiago de Cuba.
For his trouble, Goodfellow received a rare commendation for "especially
meritorious services, professional and military." He later remarked
that never had alcohol been used for a better or more therapeutic purpose.
Goodfellow died in Los Angeles in 1910 at age fifty-four. Alcoholism
was the suspected cause of death.
Excerpted with permission from The Los Angeles Times.
View Page: 1 | 2