Famous People's Cause of Death Charles Darwin

About the famous English scientist Charles Darwin, biography, history and cause of death.

POSTMORTEMS--WHAT THEY DIED FROM

CHARLES DARWIN

Born: Feb. 12, 1809

Died: Apr. 19, 1882

Cause of Death: Coronary thrombosis

Physician's Notes: He was one of the greatest thinkers of all time, in addition to being the most misquoted and misunderstood scientist in history. Abandoning medical studies after witnessing two horrendously gory operations, he turned to theology at Cambridge, where he adopted the curious pastime of collecting beetles. In 1831, despite his father's fierce and practical objections, Darwin volunteered for the unpaid position of naturalist aboard the survey ship H.M.S. Beagle. Just prior to leaving, he suffered heart palpitations but refused to go to the doctor for fear of being declared unfit for the journey. Boarding the ship with his one luxury--a copy of Milton's Paradise Lost--the 22-year-old amateur enthusiast began the epic five-year journey that not only shattered man's concept of evolution but ruined Darwin's health in the process. While in South America he was bitten by a Triatoma infestans, which he described as "the great black bug of the Pampas; it is most disgusting to feel soft wingless insects, about an inch long, crawling over one's body." Multiple insect bites combined with the general deprivations of 19th-century travel took their toll. Darwin returned home a chronic invalid. The rest of his life was one of continual pain, so severe that for weeks on end he was unable to work. He was racked by psychosomatic headaches at the slightest provocation. One such bout, two days before he announced his engagement, made him write, "I doubted whether it ever meant to go and allow me to be married." Due to his extremely sensitive constitution, he rarely had visitors, because the excitement left him exhausted. He tried many remedies. A great believer in bath cures, he visited all the famous spas of the day. He also tried starving himself, but that brought no relief and just left him more susceptible to illness. He cut down on his snuff by putting the snuffbox in the cellar and the key to the cellar in the attic--an extremely successful arrangement, because he was too weak to make the trip from attic to cellar. In December, 1881, he suffered a heart attack and afterwards wrote, "I am not in the least afraid to die." Four months later he suffered a massive coronary, which heralded the end.

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