This is one of my favourite stories from the book. Its also one of the goriest, the rest of the book isn't quite as bloody. The picture is from the original article - unfortunately it was never included in the book. So now the story has been mentioned in the NY Times seems good to publish it here.
On Saturday 9 April 1831, a year before the passage of the Anatomy Act, but a few months after the opening of the world’s first purpose-built passenger railway, a crowd of men in top hats and coat-tails showed their ‘hospital tickets’ and entered the operating theatre of Guy’s Hospital in London. Hundreds of others jostled on the street outside. An attempt had already been made by the hospital authorities to prevent a scrum by moving the date forward by three days, but the tight, gossiping community of London’s doctors had defeated the ruse.
The patient in question was a 32-year-old Chinese labourer called Hoo Loo, who had disembarked at the Royal Docks from a sailing ship, a so-called East Indiaman, with some difficulty three weeks previously. He was carrying an enormous tumour four feet in circumference, which hung from his lower abdomen, enveloping his penis, to below his knees. It was ‘of a nature and extent hitherto unseen in this country’. Although the size of Hoo Loo’s growth made it exceptional, lumps, boils and malignancies were often seen to disfigure the human form in the age before routine surgery. Hoo Loo’s had been growing for ten years, but his doctors in Canton had refused him treatment. Because it had continued to grow, he had travelled for six months to London in the belief that there the art of surgery was somewhat more advanced and that the profession would have no such qualms in operating on him. On arriving at Guy’s Hospital he must have been aware of the excitement, for as he lay waiting for the operation his days were interrupted by ‘a great number of persons of all ranks’ keen to examine this oriental curiosity.