After he was shot, the President was taken to the hospital on the grounds of the Exposition. In fact, he was taken there in the Exposition's electric ambulance. Twenty-two minutes elapsed before the first surgeon arrived at 4:45 p.m. -- Herman Mynter. In a humorous moment to this tragedy, Mynter recounted that he had spoken with the President the day before, and when McKinley looked up from the operating table and saw Mynter, he smiled and said, "Doctor, when I met you yesterday, I did not imagine that today I should have asked a favor of you."
When Mynter examined the wounds, he reaffirmed the other physicians beliefs that an immediate operation was necessary. During these proceedings, the decision had been made as to who would be the head surgeon. When Matthew Mann entered the room a few minutes later, it was decided that he would be the "man for the job." The only problem with Mann was the fact that he was a gynecologist and an obstetrician. He was not an expert in surgery of the upper abdomen and he had never operated on a gunshot wound.
The operation began at 5:20 and was not performed without its problems. First was the serious lack of proper surgical equipment. Second was the fact that McKinley's personal physician, Presley Rixey, had to direct the fading sunlight into the incision with a mirror. It was only later that Rixey rigged up an electric light in order to eluminate the operation.
After a tiresome search, Mann could not find the path of the bullet that penetrated McKinley's stomach. The President's sizabel girth added to the problem. Mann probed for quite some time before deciding to abandon the search and close up the wound as best he could.
As it happened, Roswell Park, one of the most renowned surgeons in the country arrived at the hospital. Park was chairman of the University of Buffalo Medical School's Department of Surgery. He had been performing an operation in Niagara Falls when he got the call that he was needed immediately at ...