As a devoted surgeon, professor, inventor and medical researcher, George W. Crile (1864-1943), one of four founding members of the Cleveland Clinic, is a local hero whose accomplishments are known and recognized throughout the world. Crile’s research and achievements helped many people throughout his life, and even after his death.
In addition to co-founding the Cleveland Clinic, Crile also accomplished several medical breakthroughs. In Cleveland 1906, at the St. Alexis Hospital, Crile succeeded at performing the first human blood transfusion. He also became Ohio’s first neurosurgeon, and invented medical equipment such as the Crile forceps, and the pneumatic suit. Crile also researched how to perform shock less surgery, and discovered that certain drugs could be used to prevent people from going into shock during operations.
George W. Crile gave medical service during two wars in his lifetime, the Spanish American War, where he served from 1898- 1899, and in WWI from 1914-1918. In the latter of these, Crile led Lakeside Unit, from Lakeside Hospital in Cleveland, and brought with him surgeons, nurses, and technicians that served at the Ambulance Americaine, or American Military Hospital. This hospital unit, also known as Base Hospital # 4, became mobilized and eventually moved to Rouen, France. This was of the first group of Americans to go overseas and help the Allies with the war. Crile and others in his Unit stopped in London, and were greeted by King George V and Queen Alexandra of England. The King gave a speech saying how grateful the Allies were for their help. Part of this speech states “We deeply appreciate this prompt and generous response to our great needs. It is characteristic of the humanity and chivalry which have ever been evinced by the American nation that the first assistance rendered to the Allies is in connection with the profession of healing and the work of mercy,” (Crile 280).
For his service in France Crile received the French Legion of Honor in 1922, which is the highest award given to military veterans for their service. Crile also received a gold medal from the National Institute of Social Sciences in 1914 for his research on shock less surgery.
George Crile was born in Chili, a small town in Coshocton County, Ohio, as the fifth of eight children in his family. He received his AB at Ohio Northern University, his MD at the College of Wooster and his PhD at Hiram College. He also researched and studied medicine in Paris, London and Vienna. Crile became a doctor and practiced in Cleveland where he lived for most of his life. In the year 1900 George Crile married Grace McBride of Cleveland, and over the years they had four children. They lived on Euclid Ave. in Cleveland until the family finally moved to a 20 room mansion in Cleveland Heights.
Along with his career as a surgeon, the College of Wooster and the Western Reserve University were privileged to have Crile as a professor and a lecturer over the years. During his lifetime Crile wrote 24 books and over 400 articles on his medical findings and research, one of which is his autobiography. Many of his works are found here at the Cleveland Public Library, some even bearing his signature. George Crile passed away in 1943 and is buried at Lakeview Cemetery.
Books Authored By George W. Crile at the Cleveland Public Library
An An Experimental Research Into Surgical Shock (1899)
An Experimental and Clinical Research into Certain Problems Relating to Surgical Operations (1901)
Blood Pressure in Surgery (1903)
The Kinetic Drive (1916)
The Fallacy of the German State Philosophy (1918)
Surgical Shock and the Shockless Operation through Anoci-association (1920)
The Thyroid Gland (1923)
Notes on Military Surgery (1924)
A Bipolar Theory of Living Processes (1926)
Autosynthetic Cells (1932?)
The Phenomena of Life (1936)
Intelligence, Power and Personality (1941)
George Crile An Autobiography (1947)
Brain Tumor Institute, The Taussig Cancer Center. "George W. Crile, Ohio's First Neurosurgeon, and His Relationship With Harvey Cushing." PubMed-NCBI (2005): n.page.
Case Western Reserve University. "George Crile and the Lessons of Military Medicine in World War I." Dittrick Medical History Center, Artifacts (n.d.): n. pag. Web.
Crile, George Washington, and Grace Crile. George Crile. an Autobiography. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1947. Print.
"CRILE, GEORGE WASHINGTON, SR." The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Case Western Reserve University, n.d. Web.