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Bell's Weekly Messenger, No.1829, Sunday, April 17, 1831.

Hoo Loo, The Unfortunate Chinese

An operation has been performed at Guy's Hospital, on the unfortunate Hoo Loo, a Chinese. Mr. Aston Key was the operator, and he was assisted by Sir A. Cooper, Dr. Addison, Mr. Callaway, Mr. B. Cooper, and other eminent men. The operation consisted in removing from the lower part of the patient's body a tumour weighing fifty-six pounds, and four feet in circumference. About sixteen ounces of venous blood were lost in the dissection, but the patient appeared to suffer greatly from the loss of that quantity, which would not have dangerously affected an European. Brandy was frequently administered, but failed to rally the action of the heart. Eight ounces, kindly given from the arm of a gentleman present, were then transfused into the dying man's veins, but all proved unavailing and the poor fellow in a short time expired. The operation had excited surprising interest, and crowds of professional gentlemen and others were unable to obtain admission to witness it, the theatre being full to overflowing.

The following additional account, connected with the unfortunate Chinese who was operated upon for the removal of a tumour (extending from beneath the umbilicus to the anterior border of the anus), at Guy's Hospital, yesterday week, will, we have no doubt, be perused with considerable interest:—

Hoo Loo (as it has been before publicly stated), was a day-labourer in one of the East India Company's factories at Canton, and was brought to this country, in accordance with his own wishes, for the purpose of undergoing the operation, which terminated so fatally on the day in question. The Chinese surgeons at Canton declined to attempt the removal of the tumour; and the English surgeon there, attached to the Company, absolutely refused to undergo the fearful responsibility of the loss of life in the event of the Chinese, during the operation, losing his; as it is a maxim with the Chinese, which they never fail to put into practice (and more particularly where the English are concerned), to take "the blood of life from him by whom the blood of life is shed."

The superstition of the Chinese is proverbial. The Chinese worshippers of the God of the Celestial Empire invariably sent poor Hoo Loo to "Coventry" during his stay at Canton, under the persuasion that the tumour with which he was afflicted was one of Hum Fum's maledictory visitations for some serious offense which they imagined he must have committed. In fact every member of the Celestial Empire, who possesses any malformation in his structure (such as one leg being shorter than the other—an "unhappy squint"—a bump behind, or a bump before), is shunned by his "better shapen fellows" as one under the demon influence of the evil spirit of Hum Fum. The following is a case in point:—

A Chinese modelist was engaged by an English surgeon at Canton to execute a full-length cast of Hoo Loo (to be sent to this country), for which be was to receive, when completed, thirty rupees, which was considered to be extremely liberal pay for the performance of the contract. The cast was taken, and sent home to the surgeon, admirably executed, with the exception of the tumour (the "most important item in the account"), which was entirely omitted. The surgeon, upon remonstrating with the modelist for the carelessness with which be had executed the cast, was told by the Chinese, "That if he had attempted to have perpetuated the curse with which Hoo Loo was afflicted, the evil spirit would immediately visit him with a similar punishment;" and although the English surgeon offered to pay him double the sum originally agreed upon to perfect the cast, the modelist remained fixed in his determination, and superstition, and the fear of incurring the vengeance of the Demon of the Celestial Empire, successfully prevailed; and the cast was eventually broken by the countrymen of Hoo Loo. Other modelists were, in vain, solicited; but none would consent to run the risk of offending Hum Fum.

In the post-mortem examination, which commenced en Thursday morning, there was nothing particularly deserving of a lengthened detailed account, if we except the unusual appearances of a great number of worms, resembling our common garden worm, and of an enormous size. The stomach had a particularly healthy appearance—in fact there was no symptom of any local disease with the exception of that arising from the presence of the tumour. The circumstance of many of the blood vessels, proceeding from the tumour, being unusually large and distended is deserving of notice. Some of these veins were half an inch in diameter.

Hoo Loo, in "the arms of death," possesses a countenance remarkable for its placidity, and good humour; qualities which the poor fellow possessed, in an eminent degree, when living.

For some days previous to the operation, Hoo Loo appeared to have some fearful forebodings as to the result. The following event; however, tended not only to raise his spirits, but to give him full confidence in the universally acknowledged talents and experienced skill of Mr. Key, and to cause him anxiously to look forward to the day which was to rid him of his unwieldy burden, and transform him into a "perfect man."

The day before the operation was performed the German, from whose body a similar tumour (though differently situated) was removed by Sir Astley Cooper, nearly eleven years ago, happened to call at the Hospital; and most fortunately, at the very time that two Lascars, who acted as interpreters, were with Hoo Loo in the ward. They were then introduced to each other; and an engraving, representing the German in the state he appeared before the removal of his tumour, was shown to the Chinese; and the particulars connected with it explained to him by his interpreters. The German then permitted Hoo Loo to enter into a more detailed examination of his person, with which he expressed himself, through the medium of the Lascars, perfectly satisfied; and stated, as we have before observed, that he was not only confident of the skill of the English surgeons, but satisfied, in his own mind, that he should return again to his own country, grateful for the kindness of Mr. Key in ridding him of his "load of trouble."

The Fates, however, decreed otherwise.

The Tumour, upon examination, appeared much to resemble the udder of a cow; or what may be termed "cellular membraneous ;" or, as it is termed by some, steatomatous.

Since the operation terminated so fatally, it has been a source of very considerable regret, to the authorities at Guy's, that no persons were in attendance upon the patient in the theatre, during the operation, who could act as interpreters to the unfortunate foreigner; and who would, at the same time, by soothing the poor fellow in his own language, keep up his spirits, and render him that explanation and assistance during this painful proceeding, of which the poor fellow appeared so much in need. Hoo Loo's situation must have been dreadfully horrid in the extreme: when we reflect upon the torments he must have endured, in the midst of strangers—not one of whom could speak his language—and none, consequently, amongst the mass of witnesses to his sufferings who could administer to his bodily pains and his mental anxieties, in accordance with the expressed wishes of the patient. Since the operation, we have seen a gentleman who was a spectator on the occasion and who, possessing a knowledge of the Chinese language, has given us the following exclamations made by Hoo Loo, just previous to the fainting fit before the tumour was finally removed :—" Unloose me! unloose me!'—" Water! help! water! let me go!" The last articulate sounds he was heard to utter were—" Let it be—let it remain—I can bear no more!—unloose me!"

The mild and gentle manners of Hoo Loo had created him a host of friends throughout the hospital. Even the sister and nurses of the ward, in which he was domiciled at Guy's, "albeit not much used to the melting mood," shed copious tears when death had terminated his sufferings. The patients in the same ward were all equally affected.

Such has been the anxiety to possess some memento of Hon Loo, that we have heard of one gentleman who offered two guineas for the Chinese hat which he had used to wear; and of another who would have freely given double that sum for the dead man's queue; which, like similar appendages of the heads of the Chinese, measured nearly three-quarters of a yard.

The Authorities at the Hospital, highly to the credit of the establishment, have suffered nothing to be disposed of; and Hoo Loo (who is to be interred in the burial ground of Guy's, on Tuesday next), will descend to his grave without the deprivation of the "pride of the nation of China"—the tuft on his perecranium