Chinese physique evinces some superiority or other over that of their home people. As regards surgical cases, the general opinion is voiced by one English surgeon, who said, "They do pull through jolly well!" It was commonly observed that surgical shock is rare, and that the proportion of recoveries from serious cuttings is as high in the little poorly equipped, semi-aseptic mission hospitals of China as in the perfectly appointed, aseptic hospitals at home. Dr. Kinnear, of Foochow, recently home from a furlough in Germany, found that in treating phlegma of the hand he with his poor equipment and native assistants gets as good results as the great von Bergman working under ideal conditions on the artisan population of Berlin. The opinion prevails that under equal conditions the Chinese will make a surer and quicker recovery from a major operation than the white.
Many never get over being astonished at the recovery of the Chinese from terrible injuries. I was told of a coolie who had his abdomen torn open in an accident, and who was assisted to a hospital supported by a man on either side and holding his bowels in his hands. He was sewed up and in spite of the contamination that must have gotten into the abdomen, made a quick recovery. Amazing also is the response to the treatment of neglected wounds. A boy whose severed fingers had been hastily stuck on any how and bound up with dirty rags came to the hospital after a week with a horrible hand and showing clear symptoms of lockjaw. They washed his hand and sent him home to die. In three days he was about without a sign of lockjaw. A man whose fingers had been crushed under a cart some days before came in with blood poisoning all up his arm and in the glands under the arm. The trouble vanished under simple treatment. A patient will be brought in with a high fever from a wound of several days standing full of maggots; yet after the wound is cleaned the fever quickly subsides. A woman who had undergone a serious operation for cancer of the breast suffered infection and had a fever of 106°, during which her husband fed her with hard water chestnuts. Nevertheless, she recovered.
Nearly all are struck by the resistance of the Chinese to blood poisoning. From my note books I gather such expressions as "Blood poisoning very rare. More resistant than we are to septicæmia." "Relative immunity to pus-producing germs." "More resistant to gangrene than we are. Injuries which at home would cause serious gangrene do not do so here." "Peculiarly resistant to infection." "With badly gangrened wounds in the extremities show very little fever and quickly get well." "Women withstand septicæmia in maternity cases wonderfully well, recovering after the doctors have given them up." "Recover from septicæmia after a week of high fever that would kill a white man." No wonder there is a saying rife among the foreign doctors, "Don't give up a Chinaman till he's dead."