Amanda's Agony

Artist's Notes:

by Todd Lambert

A Christmas baby, Amanda L. was born Dec 20 1890.

Her short life was officially taken by Diphtheria on Jan 22nd 1891 but the truth was a much darker affair that the locals don't like to talk about.

For Amanda was one of Dr. O'Dwyer's first patients using a new intubation technique he invented.

His innovative instruments of savior involved putting a tube into the patients airway to allow them to continue to breathe while the acute bacterial infection ran its course.

In the case of Amanda L. the intubation was unsuccessful and he was forced to make an incision directly into her trachea.

This last-resort procedure required him to remain by her side and manually inflate her tiny lungs by pushing air to them with a hand pump.

Late into the second day after having spent hours upon hours trying to keep her starving lungs fed with oxygen, he was too exhausted to continue and asked her father Henry to continue so that he could rest.

Amanda was struggling to breathe as her tiny body wasted away.

Just hours before the break of dawn on a cold January morning, Henry apparently fell asleep. Amanda's mother awoke to find her baby daughter's lifeless body in the clutches of her husband.

Distraught in seeing what had become of her only girl, her mother ran outside.
After screaming her name for several minutes into the howling winter winds coming off the plains, a single gunshot rang out as Amanda's mother tragically took her own life.

Henry, completely devastated by what happened, left the small Kansas church and headed into town.
Entering town, nobody knew what had already taken place and several townfolk offered their best wishes for his young daughter.

Henry made into the local saloon and began to drink heavily.

According to accounts he was there for the entire day but then vanished.
Some reported at the time of seeing him heading back to the church but nobody could find him.

The next morning on a warmer and windless Sunday as the townfolk shuffled into the church for the weekly service, Henry was found hanging in the trees by the side of the church.

Devastated, Dr. O'Dwyer quickly returned by stagecoach to his home in Ohio. He left before the townfolk had learned of what happened.

Many years later Dr. O'Dwyer completely discouraged by the fate of Amanda - he eventually saw medical science advance and a vaccine discovered that essentially eliminated Diphtheria completely.

He mourned Amanda for years and had wanted to name his next child after her. Although his wife died of Smallpox before she could give him a girl to name.

Amanda deserved better

-- Dr. O'Dwyer's reported last words

To this day Amanda is a name that this small Kansas town still bemoans to utter.

There have been numerous reports that on a cold Sunday morning, Henry's body can be seen swinging next to the church where his small Amanda still roams.


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