Francis Rynd – inventor of the hypodermic syringe

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The hypodermic syringe was invented in the 1840s by Irish doctor, Francis Rynd.

Rynd was born in Dublin in 1801. He worked at Meath Hospital which helped the poorest people in the city. Doctors were not paid to work there as it was a charity hospital. He was also the chief doctor for Mountjoy Prison.

Francis Rynd inventoe of hypodermic syringe Image copyright Ireland Calling

He was an innovator and was not afraid to try new ideas and test different drugs on patients.

In the 1840s, he tried to find a cure for neuralgia. This is a disease that attacks the nervous system and causes the sufferer to experience intense pain. At the time, there was no cure and doctors could only reduce the symptoms.

Rynd hoped to inject patients with sedatives

1st hollow needleRynd hoped that if he could inject a sedative into the bloodstream of the patient, their pain would be relieved much quicker than if they had taken drugs orally.

He was ultimately unsuccessful in finding a cure. However his efforts were not in vain, or rather they were ‘in vein’, because along the way, he invented a hollow needle which he used to put the drugs into the patient’s bloodstreams.

It was in 1844 that he first used a drip needle that could inject drugs directly into the vein.

A few years later a Scottish doctor, Alexander Wood was acclaimed for his own role in the development of the hypodermic syringe. Many people thought it was actually Wood’s invention.

Dr Rynd was the first to use the equipment

hypodermic_needleHowever, Dr Rynd’s legacy was secure thanks to historical documents including an article he wrote in the Dublin Medical Press. In it, he documented how he had injected fluids into a patient with a hypodermic syringe.

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It was published in 1845, 10 years before Wood’s article about his own use of hypodermic syringes was published in the Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal.

Following Dr Rynd’s lead were French physician, Charles Pravaz and Dr Wood, who continued the development of the hypodermic syringe. There are now tens of billions used every year throughout the world.
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