Christopher “Kit” Carson is an American hunter, trapper, and frontiersman whose exploits leading John Fremont on his expeditions to the West are now the stuff of myth and legend. What is generally not well known, however, is that Carson was considered to be an expert, although self-taught, surgeon whose advice and treatment was sought throughout the West.
Carson’s surgical career started when he assisted on his first amputation at the age of 16, a forearm amputation done on muledriver Andrew Broaddus.
He was considered particularly adept at removing Indian arrowheads buried deep in the flesh and taught a technique for removing arrowheads that were still attached to the shaft that counselled grabbing the protruding shaft, pushing it forward until the arrow pierced the skin on the opposing skin surface, cutting the arrow from the wooden shaft and then backing out the shaft.
Ironically, Carson survived several life-threatening penetrating wounds in his lifetime completely without the aid of professional medical help only to die in 1868 in the presence of a doctor of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, an event which the “modern” physician could do little about.