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John H. Gibbon, Jr. Part I. The development of the first successful heart-lung machine.

In 1931, after witnessing the death of a patient from pulmonary embolectomy, Dr. John Gibbon had an idea for a machine that could take deoxygenated blood, oxygenate it, and pump it back into the arterial system. Collaborating with his wife Mary, Dr. Gibbon worked from 1934 to 1942 to develop an extracorporeal circulatory device. By 1942, he was able to keep cats alive on his experimental devices, with continued survival after bypass. In 1950, he received support from IBM to build a heart-lung machine on a more sophisticated scale. Finally, on May 6, 1953, Dr. Gibbon performed his first successful operation using an extracorporeal circuit on an 18-year-old woman with a large atrial septal defect and a large left-to-right shunt.[1]


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