Portrait No. 05

Lam Qua, 1801-1860
Physical Description:
47 cm. x 61 cm.
Framed, oil on board
Female covering face with left hand, right hand disfigured.
Ninth Report from October 1st to December 31st 1838, Chinese Repository, vol. 7, 1838-1839, p. 59 : Leang Yen, a female aged 34, from the neighborhood of Fa Te, the “flower gardens”. In October 1838, the disease commenced, at the head of the radius, and it had gradually increased until it now measured one foot seven inches around the wrist, and about the same at its base, it had never been remarkably painful, neither had the discharge of blood been great. The patient’s countenance was very sallow, and face and extremities generally edematous, particularly on the right side. (…) The patient has a morbid appetite, eating as much as in health. Pulse feeble and frequent; occasionally a few grains of blue pill and colocynth were administered, and opiates at night, with a view of improving her general health. Several medical gentlemen saw the patient, and among them Dr. Guilbert of the French frigate L’Artemise. All were agreed that it was advisable to amputate the arm without delay. Though the patient did not understand what was spoken, she learned or surmised, from a gesture inadvertently made, that amputation was proposed, and with great determination subsequently remarked to another, that she would sooner die than submit to the operation. In a few days the state of the case was explained to her, that in the opinion of several medical men she could not live long unless the arm was removed, that the operation would not be extremely painful, and that it was her only chance for protracting life. She urged her helplessness without her right hand, but admitted it was better than one limb should be sacrificed, than the whole body. However, in a few days she resolved to go home. After about twenty days she returned, manifestly improved in her health form the medicine she had taken, though the fungus has increased. The operation was again proposed to her and her husband. Each consented, but as it was an extraordinary affair he wished first to consult her relations. He did so, and wrote back that they confided entirely in my judgment, but ill health prevented his return. The patient still consented; the 5th of Dec. was fixed upon for the operation, and on the previous evening everything was is readiness; but the next morning when visited, she, with a toss of her head, emphatically explained, “No cutting! No cutting!” and holding up two fingers she added, “give 200 dollars and you may.” (White: “Someone has suggested this to her.”)
This patient is an exception to all that have ever yet visited the hospital. She quite misunderstood the kindness that had been shown her. Food, and a female servant to attend constantly upon her, had been provided; and – when, hearing that her husband’s health would not permit him to return to see the operation, she expressed a fear that if he was absent, and she should not perfectly recover, he might decline supporting her – she was assured that if he deserted her, she should be provided for. It seemed at this time that she thought me anxious to mutilate her, and that I would give her a price to do it. The tumor was surrounded by a plate of bone the thickness of the pericranium, which being sawed through exposed a mass of matter of the consistency of brain. There were a few apertures at which this medullary substance had protruded and expanded itself like a mushroom.”
Identified by Stephen Rachman.
Donated by Peter Parker to the Yale School of Medicine and transferred to the Historical Library.
Variant Titles:
Leang Yen
Medicine, Chinese
Missions and Missionaries
Missions, Medical
Case No. 5974
Leang Yen
Parker, Peter, 1804-1888
paintings (AAT)
Content Type:
Paintings & Drawings
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Access Restrictions:
Source Title:
Peter Parker Collection
Yale Collection:
Cushing/Whitney Medical Library
Digital Collection:
Lam Qua's Portraits of Peter Parker's Patients