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Heart Lung Machine - Invented by John Heysham Gibbon

John Heysham Gibbon-Heart Lung Machine
: John Heysham Gibbon (Know about John Heysham Gibbon)
: 1937
: United States
: Medicine & Healthcare

About Invention

The first heart-lung machine was built by physician, John Heysham Gibbon in 1937 who also performed the first human open heart operation. He is considered the inventor of the heart-lung or pump oxygenator. This experimental machine used two roller pumps and had the capacity to replace the heart and lung action of a cat. John Gibbon joined forces with Thomas Watson in 1946. Watson, an engineer and the chairman of IBM (International Business Machines), provided the financial and technical support for Gibbon to further develop his heart-lung machine. Gibbon, Watson, and five IBM engineers invented an improved machine that "minimized haemolysis and prevented air bubbles from entering the circulation." The device was only tested on dogs and had a 10% mortality rate. Further improvements came in 1945, when Clarence Dennis built a modified Gibbon pump that permitted a complete bypass of the heart and lungs during surgical operations of the heart, however, Dennis' machine was hard to clean, caused infections, and never reached human testing. A Swedish physician, Viking Olov Bjork "invented an oxygenator with multiple screen discs that rotated slowly in a shaft, over which a film of blood was injected. Oxygen was passed over the rotating discs and provided sufficient oxygenation for an adult human. Bjork along with help of a few chemical engineers, one of which who was his wife, prepared a blood filter and an artificial intima of silicon under the trade name UHB 300. This was applied to all parts of the perfusion machine, particularly, the rough red rubber tubes, to delay clotting and save platelets." Bjork took the technology to the human testing phase.

"The first heart lung bypass machine was first used on a human in 1953. In 1960, it was considered safe to use the CBM along with hypothermia to perform CABG surgery."


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