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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mackinac Island's Memorial to William Beaumont

Why is there a rock memorial to William Beaumont (of hospital fame) on Mackinac Island? We knew there had to be a story.  Turns out in the early 1800's this man, William Beaumont, was experimenting on a Québécois voyageur, Alexis St Martin, who accidentally got shot in the stomach. Beaumont, an army surgeon at the time,  saved his life, but the guy was left with a fistula hole into his stomach (which never healed) through which William enjoyed performing all kinds of experiments to see just exactly how food was digested. These experiments took place at the army post on Mackinac Island. Due to these unique experiments, Beaumont became known as the "Father of Gastric Physiology", and then 100 years after his death, the hospital that began in Royal Oak was named after him.

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