In the 1960’s bleeding gastric and duodenal ulcers required emergency surgery. Well, not exactly! It was known that, in most cases, bleeding stopped before the patient bled to death. So the strategy was to give “medical treatment” involving fasting, resting, washing out the stomach with a large bore tube, placing various solutions of drugs and antacids in the stomach, and waiting to see what happened. All the while the patient was given blood transfusions. After multiple transfusions, often completely replacing the patient’s blood volume, surgery might be tried. By this time the patient might be close to death and the anaesthesia itself could be fatal.
About then, a surgeon called Wangensteen at the University of Minnesota USA, on the basis of some animal experiments, introduced a machine to automatically lavage the stomach with ice water. This process caught on and seemed to stop the bleeding in many cases. At least it was better than nothing.
In this era, Wylie D. Gibbons learned the technique, critically evaluated then improved on it, and collected a series of patients in Rockhampton Queensland. These formed the basis of his first thesis submitted in 1965 to the University of Queensland. The thesis was rejected. Read on if you are interested.