Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
Harry Creely Jr. was an old-fashioned manhe liked his collars stiff and his trach tubes metal. When he died, his daughter, perhaps fearing a plague of cheap, Chinese-made trocars and cannulas, bequeathed his breathing tubes to Alexandria’s Adams Center. Creely had depended on these tubes since age 3, when his diphtheria-paralyzed windpipe necessitated a tracheotomy. An imaginative journalist, observing the toddler post-op, wrote: “And as he lingered, fighting off death, he tried to fight off that strange instrument in his throat. His hands clutched at it until he had to be put into a small straightjacket.” This procedure has, since Creely’s day, become a remedy for many throat problemscancer, foreign-body obstruction, even severe sleep apnea. Yet the tracheotomy was once a clumsy art with a 75 percent mortality rate, considered less effective than bloodletting. Behold the evolution of windpipe surgery and hardware in “Tracheotomy: The Last Resort,” on view from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (see City List for other dates) at the John Q. Adams Center for the History of OtolaryngologyHead and Neck Surgery, 1 Prince St., Alexandria. Free. (703) 519-1579. (John Metcalfe)