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William Beaumont, American Surgeon
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William Beaumont (1785-1853) was a surgeon in the U.S. Army and is called the "Father of Gastric Physiology" because of his research on human digestion. In 1822, Alexis St. Martin, was accidentally shot in the stomach by a shotgun loaded with a duck shot from close range. Beaumont treated his wound, but expected him to die from his injuries, but he survived, with a hole (fistula) in his stomach that never fully healed. Beaumont began to perform experiments on digestion using the stomach of St. Martin. Some of the experiments were conducted by tying a piece of food to a string and inserting it through the hole into St. Martin's stomach. Every few hours, Beaumont would remove the food and observe how well it had been digested. Beaumont also extracted a sample of gastric acid from St. Martin's stomach for analysis, this led to the discovery that the stomach acid digests the food into nutrients the stomach can use proving that digestion was primarily a chemical process and not a mechanical one.
March 7th, 2013
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