Became known as the "Father of Gastric Physiology" following his research on human digestion when an employee of the American Fur Company located on Mackinac Island, was accidentally shot on June 6, 1822. The discharge of the shotgun which was loaded with buck shot injured his stomach and ribs. While Dr. Beaumont treated his wound, he fully expected the employee (named Alexis St. Martin) to die. St. Martin did survive but with a fistula, in his stomach that never fully healed.
In August 1825, Beaumont would relocated to Fort Niagara, New York, and brought Alexis St. Martin with him. Beaumont decided to observe digestion within the stomach of St. Martin by creating experiments, such as tying a piece of food to a string and inserting it through the hole into the stomach. Every few hours, Beaumont removed the food and observed the process of digestion. Beaumont also removed a small amount of gastric acid from St. Martin's stomach for analysis.
In September, St. Martin ran away and moved to Canada, but Beaumont had him caught to continue his experiments. Beaumont digested bits of food in cups with samples St. Martin's stomach acid. This led to the realization that digestion was not primarily a mechanical process as believed at the time with mashing, pounding, and squeezing of the stomach, but was a chemical process.
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