Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

Mütter chronicles the true story of Thomas Dent Mütter (1811-1859), an eccentric pre-Civil War surgeon who was as known for his sharp wit and stylish dress as he was for the revolutionary work he performed with his era's severely disfigured and for his immense collection of medical oddities. Orphaned at six and a doctor by 19, Mütter was already a prodigy even before he decided to specialize in plastic surgery of the exceptionally deformed. Setting up his practice in Quaker Philadelphia, Mütter's ostentatious dress, striking good looks, outspoken egotism and refusal to compromise led him to be reviled by the high-ranking members of his new community. He continually struggled to have his modern theories heard, a challenge in a community where blood-lettings were still practiced to prevent disease and where deformed babies were killed at birth. Eventually, Mütter garnered the respect and attention he deserved, and forever altered the way the medical community viewed--and inevitably how they treated--the grotesquely deformed. Additionally, Mütter fought for and eventually secured a distinguished university teaching position where he inspired an entire generation of doctors--through some very unconventional means. As his influence grew, so did his collection of medical oddities. So when he finally succumbed tragically young to a lifelong illness, he left behind not only a legacy of compassion and devotion that is still revered today, but a collection of medical oddities--currently housed in a museum named after him--that remains unrivaled in the world.


Writer: Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz