Monday, April 15, 2024

First Successful Open Heart Surgery 1953

Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award

Christel Walrath, First Open-Heart Patient, Returns To Children’s Hospital Colorado

Jefferson Medical College

For designing and developing the heart-lung machine.

Dr. Gibbon’s original experiments in 1935 demonstrated, for the first time, that life could be maintained by a machine, outside the body, which performed all the work of the heart and lungs, without damage to the experimental animal. After 18 long years of experimental engineering and animal work perfecting the original apparatus, Dr. Gibbon performed in May of 1953 the first successful open-heart operation in the world using a heart-lung machine on a human patient. The operation corrected the defective closing of the septum, or wall, between the chambers of the heart.

Since the landmark operation, the use of the heart-lung machine has spread all over the world, and untold numbers of people who would otherwise have remained incapacitated, or died because of previously incurable heart disease, are now living. The historic heart transplant operations performed since December 3, 1967, could not have been possible without Dr. Gibbon’s dedicated research.

The vast impact of Dr. Gibbon’s discovery on medical science exemplifies the way in which new knowledge, gained from a single research project, can trigger a chain reaction of inquiries leading to additional knowledge, and ultimately to the prevention or cure of human diseases.

The First Heart Operation

The patient was a young black man named James Cornish. He had been rushed to Provident Hospital on the South Side with a knife wound in his chest from a barroom brawl. Dr. Daniel Hale Williamsa founder of Provident, which had opened two years previously as the citys first interracial hospitalknew Cornish was bleeding to death. On this hot summer night, Williams performed a desperate operation that helped set the stage for modern surgery.

Medical textbooks of the time said that operating on a human heart was too dangerous, and there was no precedent for opening the chest. But Dr. Dan, despite having no X-rays, antibiotics, adequate anesthesia and other tools of modern surgery, stepped into that medical no-mans-land. With a scalpel, he cut a small hole in Cornishs chest, carefully picking his way past nerves, muscle, blood vessels and ribs until he reached the rapidly beating heart. Exploring the wound, Williams found a severed artery. He closed it with sutures, but then discerned an inch-long gash in the pericardium, the tough sac that surrounds the heart. The heart itself had only been nicked and did not need sutures. But the damaged sac had to be closed. With Cornishs heart beating 130 times a minute beneath his nimble fingers, Williams closed the wound with catgut.

C Walton & Richard C Lillehei Surgical Society

In 1986, the Lillehei Surgical Society was founded to honor and perpetuate the contributions of the three Lillehei brothers, C. Walton, Richard, and James, to the field of cardiovascular care. In 1987, The Lillehei Surgical Society created and funded the Land Grant Chair at the University of Minnesota.

Currently, the membership includes more than 200 first, second, and third generation Lillehei trained cardiovascular and thoracic surgeons, as well as principals in the biomedical product and service industry. The Society offers an annual membership meeting and social function. Also, on a bi-annual basis, a Scientific Symposium is held to interact first hand with leaders in the international cardiovascular and thoracic community. These events are held to coincide with the date and location of the annual Society of Thoracic Surgeons meeting.

For information regarding membership requirements, please contact:

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Meet The Black Surgeon Who Performed Worlds First Successful Open Heart Surgery In 1893

Mildred Europa Taylor | Head of Content

In 1893, exactly 125 years ago today, Dr Daniel Hale Williams, an African-American cardiologist became the first surgeon to perform a successful open-heart procedure in the United States.

Known as the father of black surgery, Williams surgery became a significant feat in medical history and an important step in the fight for equality at the time, since he was one of the few black cardiologists in the US at the time.

Born on January 18, 1858, in the small town of Hollidaysburg in central Pennsylvania, Williams and his family had to move to Marylands capital city, Annapolis.

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Natural History And Presenting Symptoms

history of health care on emaze

Patients with an isolated ASDII often remain asymptomatic during childhood and adolescence. However, most will become symptomatic from the third or fourth decade, and life expectancy is reduced overall . Common initial symptoms are exercise intolerance and fatigue, which may be aggravated by a supraventricular tachycardia . SVTs are not infrequently the first clinical manifestation of an ASDII in patients over 40 years . Eventually, right-sided heart failure can develop, often with mild to moderately elevated pulmonary arterial pressure . Severe PAH, with possible progression to Eisenmenger physiology, ensues in a minority of patients . Occasionally, a suspected paradoxical systemic thromboembolism initially raises the suspicion of an ASDII being present .

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He Received Praise From President Cleveland

While later reports suggest that perhaps another doctor in St. Louis performed a similar surgery two years before Williams, his improvised operation was greeted in the press as a major moment for both Chicago and the medical field altogether. In fact, it was such a widely hailed success that Williams was appointed the next year by President Grover Cleveland to serve as the surgeon-in-chief at Freedmens Hospital in Washington, DC.

The role at Freedmens was a very prestigious commission, which he used to push new innovations and ensure a racially integrated staff. In 1895, to further promote healthcare equity, Williams co-founded the National Medical Association, which served as the equivalent to the white people-only American Medical Association.

Years Of Pioneering Surgical Advances

NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia physicians also marked with milestone with a white paper published in Seminars in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. Dr. Michael Argenziano, chief of adult cardiac surgery and director of the Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery and Surgical Arrhythmia programs at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, along with his colleagues Drs. Craig Smith, Henry Spotnitz, Kenneth Steinglass and Emile Bacha, recount the history of the institutions historic initiatives in cardiothoracic surgery, underscoring that their commitment to clinical care, education and innovation has never been greater.

As the nations first academic medical center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center is no stranger to achieving firsts, especially in cardiothoracic surgery. From the first open heart operation on a child with a congenital heart defect in 1956, to the worlds first pediatric heart transplant in 1984, to performing the first totally endoscopic, robotic open-heart surgery in 2001, the institutions continue to pioneer advancements in clinical care, education and innovation today.

All of the progress weve made and continue to make has been driven by the physicians, researchers, students and staff, nurses and technicians that have worked here throughout the generations. Their talent, drive, commitment to care and to bettering patients lives allows our cardiothoracic surgery program continues to thrive, said Dr. Argenziano.

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Sports Participation Diving And High Altitude

The basis for recommendations regarding the safety of competitive sports participation is the individual patients abilities, haemodynamics and risk of decompensation or dysrhythmias. Nevertheless, general recommendations can be given. Evaluation should include a comprehensive history and physical examination, ECG, chest X-ray, TTE and exercise testing. Before or from 6 months after defect closure, asymptomatic patients with normal PAP can participate in all sports, while restriction to low-intensity sports is indicated when PAH is present. Eisenmenger physiology precludes sports participation. In the presence of symptomatic dysrhythmias, second-degree or third-degree heart block or ventricular dysfunction, individual evaluation and exercise prescription are indicated, for which we refer to the current guidelines .

Anaesthesia And Monitoring On Cpb

First Open-Heart Surgery – Decades TV Network

Perfusion pressure is used as a surrogate marker of organ perfusion and should be maintained between 50 and 70 mmHg. Hypertensive patients and those at risk for stroke require higher flows and perfusion pressures to maintain organ perfusion. Cerebral oximetry, evoked potentials and transcranial Doppler can be used to assess the adequacy of cerebral blood flow. Mixed venous oxygen saturation monitoring can provide an estimate of the balance between global oxygen delivery and demand. Mixed venous oximetry of 70% or greater is maintained, but even this does not guarantee adequate perfusion of all tissue beds.

Blood level in the reservoir should be monitored to prevent air embolism. Central venous pressure should be low. High CVP indicates a poor venous return. Monitoring of aortic line pressure, blood temperature and integrity of gas supply to the oxygenator is essential. Glucose is maintained between 120 and 180 mg/dL. Anaesthesia can be maintained by inhalational route or total intravenous anaesthesia can be given. Volatile anaesthetics provide cardioprotective effects through preconditioning. Nitrous oxide is avoided during CPB to prevent an increase in the size of air emboli. Anaesthetic requirements are reduced with hypothermia, however drug pharmacokinetics are also altered due to haemodilution and altered metabolism leading to variable effect.

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Early Life Of John Gibbon

Gibbon was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 29, 1903, the second of four children of surgeon John Heysham Gibbon Sr. and Marjorie Young. He earned his B.A. from Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1923 and his M.D. from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1927. He completed his internship at Pennsylvania Hospital in 1929. The following year, he went to Harvard Medical School as a research fellow in surgery.

Gibbon was a sixth-generation physician. One of his great-uncles, Brig. Gen. John Gibbon, is memorialized by a monument to his bravery on the Union side in the Battle of Gettysburg, while another uncle was a brigade surgeon for the Confederacy in the same battle.

In 1931 Gibbon married Mary Hopkinson, a surgical researcher who was an assistant in his work. They had four children: Mary, John, Alice, and Marjorie.

Though The Years To The Present

Happily, there were doctors who made history in the field of heartsurgery who took Gibbons idea and made it work: Clarence Dennis of DownstateUniversity in Brooklyn John Kirklin of the Mayo Clinic and C. Walton Lillehei at the University of Minnesota.

The stunning truth is that in 1953, nearly 100 percent of thepatients died in open heart surgery and today more than 98 percent thrive.

In the period from1953 through today, an entire category of lifesaving medicine developed,sparked by the lonely efforts of one doctor. This type of surgery, using much slenderizedmodern versions of Dr. Gibbon’s basic system, has since become commonplace andis now routinely performed on infants and children born with severe heartdefects.

Theheartlung machine is also used in surgery on adults to repair heartvalves damaged by rheumatic fever, to restore the heart’s circulatory system inthe coronary bypass operation and to perform heart transplant operations.

Over250,000 heart valve replacements are done every year and over 98 percent of thosepatients recover. Some hospitals have reportedthey have never lost a heart valve patient on the operating table!

John H. Gibbon, Jr., the descendant of four generations ofdoctors, died in 1973 of a heart attack.

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Daniel Hale Williams And The First Successful Heart Surgery

A people who dont make provision for their own sick and suffering are not worthy of civilization.Daniel Hale Williams

The son of a barber, Daniel Hale Williams founded the first black-owned hospital in America, and performed the worlds first successful heart surgery, in 1893. Williams was born in 1858 in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, the fifth of seven children. After his father died, his mother, Sara Price Williams, moved the family several times. Young Daniel started as a shoemaker, but quickly knew he wanted more education. He completed secondary school in Wisconsin. At age 20, Williams became an apprentice to a former surgeon general for Wisconsin. Williams studied medicine at Chicago Medical College.

After his internship, he went into private practice in an integrated neighborhood on Chicagos south side. He soon began teaching anatomy at Chicago Medical College and served as surgeon to the City Railway Company. In 1889, the governor of Illinois appointed him to the states board of health.

Determined that Chicago should have a hospital where both black and white doctors could study and where black nurses could receive training, Williams rallied for a hospital open to all races. After months of hard work, he opened Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses on May 4, 1891, the countrys first interracial hospital and nursing school.

Dr. Williams died in 1931. The Daniel Hale Williams Medical Reading Club in Washington, D.C., commemorates his achievements.

Effects Of Defect Closure

Health Technologies timeline

Cardiac remodelling and exercise capacity. Closure of the ASDII results in right-sided volume unloading and reduction in RA and RV size. The remodelling process and associated increase in cardiopulmonary function commence immediately after closure and continue for several years . Decreased RV volume improves ventricular interaction and LV filling. Subsequent increase in LV stroke volume and cardiac output is probably the main mechanism behind the improvement of exercise capacity after closure. These effects occur in patients of all ages, both symptomatic and asymptomatic. Although normal exercise capacity is reached in the majority, it may remain subnormal in those with poor cardiopulmonary function prior to closure . This supports timely closure of sizeable secundum ASDs, regardless of age and symptoms.

Patients with an ASDII, open or closed, and PAH should be referred to an ACHD centre. As their haemodynamic balance is readily disrupted, planned medication changes or interventions should be discussed with their specialised caregiver. Moreover, the prescription of disease-targeting therapy such as the endothelin antagonist bosentan is restricted to these specialists. When PAH develops late after closure, other non-shunt-related risk factors should be ruled out to appropriately target therapy .

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Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting

Coronary artery bypass grafting, also called revascularization, is a common surgical procedure to create an alternative path to deliver blood supply to the heart and body, with the goal of preventing clot formation. This can be done in many ways, and the arteries used can be taken from several areas of the body. Arteries are typically harvested from the chest, arm, or wrist and then attached to a portion of the coronary artery, relieving pressure and limiting clotting factors in that area of the heart.

The procedure is typically performed because of coronary artery disease , in which a plaque-like substance builds up in the coronary artery, the main pathway carrying oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This can cause a blockage and/or a rupture, which can lead to a heart attack.

Before The 19th Century

The concept of surgery was explored well before recorded history with early “surgeons” grasping the basic concepts of the human anatomy and organ systems. Among some of the notable findings:

  • 6500 BCE: Skulls found in France show signs of a rudimentary surgery called trepanation, which involves drilling a hole in the skull.
  • 1750 BCE: The Code of Hammurabi, one of the earliest Babylonian codes of laws, details regulation governing surgeons, medical malpractice, and victim’s compensation.
  • 1550 BCE: The Ebers Papyrus, an ancient Egyptian medical treaty, includes information on how to surgically treat crocodile bites and serious burns.
  • 600 BCE: Sushruta, regarded as the “founding father of surgery,” was an innovator of plastic surgery, including rhinoplasty.
  • 950: Abulcasis, an Arab physician considered to among the greatest medieval surgeons, apparently learned many of his skills from Greek surgeons.
  • 1363: French surgeon Guy de Chauliac writes Chirurgia Magna , regarded as the standard text for surgeons until well into the 17th century.
  • 1540: English barbers and surgeons unite to form the United Barber-Surgeons Company. These “barber-surgeons” performed tooth extractions and bloodletting.
  • 1630: Wilhelm Fabry, known as “the Father of German Surgery,” is recognized as the first surgeon to employ amputation as a treatment for gangrene.

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Our Surgical Heritagefirst Successful Open

A pioneering surgeon at the University of Minnesota, Dr C. Walton Lillehei, is still considered the father of open-heart surgery. Dr Lillehei and his surgical team performed the first open-heart operations utilizing cross-circulation, including the first successful closure on a 3-year-old boy. Before his death at age 67, this patient arranged to donate his body to the University of Minnesotas Anatomy Bequest program. We describe this patients medical history, and present unique images of internal/external cardiac anatomies and implanted devices obtained via direct visualizations, , and post-mortem. Additionally, we present computational models and 3-dimensional printed models.

The History Of Cardiopulmonary Bypass: Medical Advances

Remembering the First Open Heart Surgeries – Dr. Herbert Cohn

To operate on the human heart safely was a dream in the early twentieth century, and the object of derision by most well-known surgeons of that era. The world-famous Theodor Billroth once exclaimed that to operate on the human heart was folly at best and ignorance at worst. The men and women who pushed further, in creating the ability to work on the heart while stopped and continuing to sustain the body, advanced the medical field beyond their wildest dreams.

Cardiac surgery in the early twentieth century had begun to develop a number of life-saving operations. With the advent of vascular techniques and refined tools, quite a few advances had been maderepair of coarctation, the Blalock-Taussig shunt for Tetralogy of Fallot, mitral valve fracture and many others. Hypothermia and inflow occlusion were the mainstay of operating inside the heart for a few minutes. In September of 1952, Lewis and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota closed an atrial septal defect on a 5-year-old patient with this technique.1 The advent of modern cardiac surgery began in May of 1953 when Dr. John Gibbon corrected an atrial septal defect in a young woman at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia with the assistance of a true heart-lung machine. This was the culmination of experimental successes and failures, and a collaboration between clinicians, scientists and engineers from the previous decade.


  • Dale HH, Schuster EH. A double perfusion-pump. J Physiol 1928 64:356-64.
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