Hickman Medal

WLMD ID: aikd

Dr. Henry Hill Hickman (1800-1830) was an English physician who conducted experiments using carbon dioxide (CO2) to produce what he called "suspended animation". In 1824, he announced the success of this technique for surgical anesthesia. Four years later he demonstrated his method before the Royal Academy of Medicine in Paris. But his ideas were rejected because of the risk that CO2 might suffocate patients. Hickman's pioneering work was largely ignored for a century.

In 1931, England's Royal Society of Medicine founded the Hickman Medal, which is awarded to individuals for original work of outstanding merit in anesthesia. The honor is given once every three years. The example shown here is the fourth Hickman Medal, awarded to Dr. Ralph M. Waters in 1944. Dr. Waters founded the first academic department of anesthesiology, and his studies of CO2 led the way toward modern closed-circuit anesthesia systems. Closed-circuit anesthesia is produced by continuous rebreathing of a small amount of anesthetic gas in a closed system with an apparatus for adding oxygen and removing carbon dioxide.

Catalog Record: Hickman Medal

Access Key: aikd
Accession No.: 1990-07-30-2 A

Title: Hickman medal : fourth award : Professor Ralph Milton Waters, April 1944 /
[designed by T.H. Paget].

Author: Paget, T. H. (Thomas Hugh).

Title variation: Alt Title
Title: Ralph Waters Hickman Medal.

Title variation: Alt Title
Title: Henry Hill Hickman : Pioneer Worker in Anesthesia 1800-1830.

Publisher: [London : Royal Society of Medicine : Llantrisant, South Wales : Royal Mint],

Physical Description: 1 medal : bronze ; 5.2 cm. dia.

Subject: Medals.
Subject: Awards and Prizes.
Subject: Memorabilia
Subject: Hickman, Henry Hill, 1800-1830.
Subject: Waters, Ralph Milton, 1883-1979.
Subject: Bas-reliefs.

Note Type: General
Notes: Title from medal’s case.

Note Type: With
Notes: With a velvet and satin lined leather case, 3 x 10 x 10 cm; Printed on case:
“Hickman Medal [new line] Fourth Award [new line] Professor Ralph Milton
Waters [new line] April 1944”.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Editorial : The Hickman Medal. Anesthesiology. 1941;2(5):577.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Hunting P. The History of the Royal Society of Medicine. London: Martin
Dunitz. 2001:306.

Note Type: Physical Description
Notes: On the front of the bronze medal is a bas-relief portrait of Henry Hill
Hickman with text below: “Henry Hill Hickman: Pioneer Worker in Anesthesia
1800-1830”; Back of medal has a bas-relief of 2 nude humans with broken
chains and a robed women standing between them; with text: “Anaesthesia
Vitrix Dorlorum”; They represent the Goddess Anesthesia freeing humans from

Note Type: Reproduction
Notes: Photographed by Mr. William Lyle July 13, 2010.

Note Type: Acquisition
Notes: Donated to the WLM by Darwin Waters.

Note Type: Historical
Notes: The Hickman Medal was founded in 1931 by the Royal Society of Medicine;
Awarded no more than every 3 years by the Council of the Royal Society of
Medicine on the recommendations of the Council of the Section of
Anaesthetics; Awarded to individuals for original work of outstanding merit
in anesthesia (Anesthesiology, 1941; Hunting, 2001).