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Warren Commission Hearings: Vol. VI - Page 59« Previous | Next »

(Testimony of Dr. Don Teel Curtis)

Mr. Specter.
Now, was there anything in President Kennedy's condition which called for the application of your specific specialty?
Dr. CURTIS. No; there wasn't.
Mr. SPECTER.. So, you aided in a general way in the treatment of him as an emergency case?
Dr. CURTIS. Yes.
Mr. SPECTER. Now, would you continue to tell me what you have observed with respect to his condition when you first saw him, including what you noted, if anything, with respect to his respiration.
Dr. CURTIS. It is very difficult to say whether or not the President was making a respiratory effort, but I'm not sure that he wasn't making a respiratory effort.
Mr. Specter.
Do you think that he was making a respiratory effort?
Dr. CURTIS. He could have been, and that's as far as I can go on it.
Mr. Specter.
Did you observe movements of the chest?
Dr. CURTIS. I thought I did.
Mr. Specter.
What was his coloring?
Dr. CURTIS. He was pink--he wasn't cyanotic when I saw him.

Mr. SPECTER. And will you explain in lay terms what cyanotic means for the record at this point?
Dr. CURTIS. When the hemoglobin of the blood is reduced, it turns a blue color and the patient becomes blue, when a certain percentage of the hemoglobin is reduced. That's not a lay term either, but when the patient is in oxygen need or oxygen want, cyanosis would be apparent.
Mr. Specter.
And how does that manifest itself in the patient?
Dr. CURTIS. The patient will be a blue, gray, ashen color.
Mr. Specter.
What action was Dr. Carrico taking upon your arrival?

Dr. CURTIS. He had placed an endotracheal tube in the President's trachea for artificial respiration.
Mr. Specter.
Was he doing anything else?
Dr. CURTIS. Yes; he was applying the Bird machine.
Mr. Specter.
Will you describe what other steps he was taking, if any?

Dr. CURTIS. He directed, that a tracheotomy setup be brought to the emergency room, and I think it was Dr. Carrico directed me to start the I.V. fluids.
Mr. Specter.
And what, if anything, did you do in response to his direction ?
Dr. CURTIS. I assisted him in fitting the tube from the Bird machine to the endotracheal tube and I assisted in removing some of the President's clothes and did the cutdown on his leg.
Mr. SPECTER. And what, specifically, did you do pursuant to the cutdown on his leg?
Dr. CURTIS. A small incision was made on the ankle and a vein is bluntly dissected free, small holes placed in the vein and a venous catheter is placed in this vein and a purse string ligature is then tied around the catheter at one end, and then the wound was closed with sutures.
Mr. SPECTER. Now, did you do anything else to the President following that operative procedure?
Dr. CURTIS. Then, the initial cutdown that I started was ineffective and, infiltrated into the tissues. I think possibly I cut the knot too close of the purse string ligature, so I was getting ready to do another one and it was decided since fluids were going in the other leg, it wouldn't be necessary.
Mr. SPECTER. What other action did you take, if any, in the treatment of the President?
Dr. CURTIS. That's all.
Mr. Specter.
Did you remain in the trauma room No. 1 ?
Dr. CURTIS. I did until he was pronounced dead.

Mr. SPECTER. What action was taken by anyone else in the trauma room while you were there ?
Dr. CURTIS. My attention was focused on what I was doing, so I wasn't aware--I knew that a cutdown was being performed and that is about all I could see. I mean, I knew that a tracheotomy was being performed.
Mr. Specter.
What other doctors were present there at that time?
Dr. CURTIS. I know that Dr. Perry was there and I know Dr. Baxter was
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