Knoxville Couple Invents Medical Stapler in 1940

Next Thing to Zipper

Young Couple Here Invents ‘Stapler’ for Speedy Clipping of Incisions

Lynn Humphreys and Pretty Wife Hope To Make Fortune from Idea

by Ed Mitchell, News-Sentinel Staff Writer

If you’ve got an operation you haven’t finished showing around yet you’d better hurry, because competition in nifty scars will probably get stiffer within the next few months, thanks to an invention of 20-year-old Lynn Humphreys and his pretty wife.

Young Mr. Humphreys, now a clerk at the Southern School and Office Supply Co., was formerly an orderly at Fort Sanders Hospital.  His wife, formerly Miss Charlsie Vineyard, is a Fort Sanders nurse, and formerly nursed at the famous Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.

Together they conceived an idea to eliminate the cumbersome, slow and tedious process of an attending nurse handing the operating physician each individual clip while he clipped up an incision.

Combines Devices

Their invention combines the tweezers which are used to clinch the clips into the skin and a device which automatically feeds another clip into the jaws of the tweezers each time the preceding clip is clinched and the jaws open again.

“I have shown the gadget to a number of prominent doctors in town and a surgical supply house and they are all very favorable towards it,” Mr. Humphreys said.  “We have used the old-type tweezers, which most physicians are used to and like to use.  What the instrument really does is save time and the tedious trouble of the doctors handling each one of the clips individually.”

Clips are fast taking the place of stitches with many physicians in any type of operation where incisions are made.

Apply for Patent

Mr. and Mrs. Humphreys have applied for a patent on the invention and are seeking to sell it to a New York manufacturer for $25,000 and one dollar royalty of each article sold.  They will possibly go to New York Saturday to demonstrate the instrument to a manufacturer.  It will cost the couple $205 to get the patent.  They paid $175 when they submitted the invention and must pay $30 more when the patent rights papers are returned to them.  The patent will hold for 17 years, Mr. Humphreys said.

Mr. and Mrs. Humphreys got their idea while assisting with operations at Fort Sanders, where their courtship began.

Mr. Humphreys attended the pre-medicine classes at the University of Tennessee for three years while working at the hospital.  His blood is of the rare type three, and during his hospital experience he gave transfusions three times when donors with the matching type could not be found.  He used money realized from his blood toward medical books and furthering his university education.

[The article includes a photo of Mr. Humphreys’ demonstrating the device.]

Source:  Knoxville News-Sentinel, March 20, 1940, page 18

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