“Walter Gibson, 175 pieces; Milton Gibson 250; John Drake, 300; Frederick Ranney, 300; Shellman Stewart, 60; Langdon Howes, 75; Murray Sanders, 40; Robert Henning, 60; Albert Wallace, 60.”
The foregoing list, remarks the Globe, represents perhaps the strangest contribution made by one set of human beings to another in the whole history of altruism.
It seems that Master Frederick Griffith of Montclair (New Jersey), being a patriotic youngster, determined to celebrate the glorious Fourth of July in the usual way, and laid in a good stock of crackers.
Unfortunately, he committed the error of stowing away the surplus supply in his pockets, and while lighting one of them a spark set fire to the rest and converted his raiment into a shirt of Nessus.
The poor boy was desperately burned, but the doctors informed his parents that if they could get a sufficient number of persons who would volunteer to contribute 5,000 pieces of skin to graft on to the parts left bare by the burns, they might save his life.
It is pleasant to learn that no lack of volunteers stood in the way of the experiment. The parents were the first to volunteer themselves, a score of healthy young men in the neighbourhood followed suit and the grafting process, which was begun on August 1st, has been carried on ever since, with the result that Master Frederic Griffith has already 2,000 pieces of skin from other persons growing on his body.
By next February, the doctors hope to have entirely completed the upholstering of the little patient, though many months must still elapse before he is able to quit his bed.
This, we may observe, is not published as a snake story, although snakes do wonderful things with their skins. It is narrated with every possible circumstantiality of detail by a leading New York paper, and certainly constitutes one of the most remarkable triumphs of surgery on record.
The Gloucester Citizen, December 21, 1894.