American Medical Biographies/Ahern, Michael Joseph

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Ahern, Michael Joseph (1844–1914)

Michael Joseph Ahern, protagonist in the field of Listerian surgery in Quebec, was born in Quebec in 1844 of parents who came over from Cork, Ireland. He studied in the local schools and resolved to teach as a profession. Curé Saxe, however, persuaded him to seek a wider field and he took up medicine in the Laval University in 1864 and graduated Doctor of Medicine in 1867, then serving as interne in the Marine and Immigrants' Hospital, Quebec.

He stepped into the shoes of Dr. McCraw and gradually built up a substantial practice and married Georgine Marcotte of Quebec in 1876.

In 1878 he was made professor of anatomy and in 1885 of clinical surgery in Laval. Born in the days when anesthesia had but recently arrived to mitigate the horrors of surgery and extend its domain, he had yet to see its promised benefits, largely dissipated by the continued reign of pyemia, erysipelas, hospital gangrene and purulent infections of all sorts. These he combated by the introduction of the new Listerism into the Hotel-Dieu of Quebec. He was, like so many of his confrères, in all ages and clinics, interested in science, especially in botany and mineralogy; he made collections of the fossils found in the rocks of the Quebec mountains, and at his death over four hundred named specimens of the Niagara formation were presented to the Geological Museum of the University.

His last work was an uncompleted "History of Medicine in Canada" under French Rule. He died April 18, 1914.

Annuaire de l'Université Laval, 1914–1915.
Le Bulletin Medical, May, 1914, pp. 385–391.
The Doctor's Who's Who. C. W. Moulton. N. Y., 1906.