Jackson CO2 Absorber
WLM ID: aiwx | Catalog Record
Dr. Dennis E. Jackson (1878-1980) earned a PhD in pharmacology in 1908 and a medical degree in 1913. His sensitivity to the struggles of poorer patients made him aware of the need for more affordable nitrous oxide (N2O) anesthesia, and drove his efforts to develop a carbon dioxide (CO2) absorbing anesthesia machine. Jackson knew that less N2O would be required to anesthetize a patient if the gas that the patient exhaled could be reused (in other words rebreathed) by the patient. Using less N2O meant less cost for the patient. In order for a patient to rebreathe his exhaled gas, the air and gas breathed in and out needs to be contained within a system closed off from the external environment. Also, oxygen and small amounts of N2O need to be added, and CO2 needs to be removed. Dr. Jackson first developed such a system in 1914. The apparatus pictured here was likely built some time between 1915 and early 1918. During this time period he also created a very simple CO2 absorber using a cake pan and a shower cap. Although the world was not ready for such considerable changes in anesthesia administration, others, such as Dr. Ralph Waters, eventually advanced the concepts and refined equipment until CO2 absorption and closed anesthesia systems became standard for all anesthesia machines.