20th Century, History, Medical Technology, Medicine, Minnesota

First Successful Open-Heart Surgery

Dr. Lillehei and Controlled Cross circulation model, https://twitter.com/MedCrisis/status/1227349896119844865

September 1, 1952
“In 1952, after a long process of study, research, experimentation, and practice, Dr. Lillehei performed the first successful open-heart surgery on a human patient who survived.” *

To be more accurate, Dr. Lillehei assisted his colleague and close personal friend at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Floyd John Lewis in this first procedure. Dr. Lewis innovated the model of inducing hypothermia in his patients to slow the de-oxygenation of their blood during the the time the heart is stopped during surgery. While successful, they learned this model’s restricted time window, about ten minutes, was insufficient to deal with problems and complications of open-heart surgery. Dr. Lillehei sought new ways to overcome these limitations. **

For the sake of brevity, I chose to cite the wonderful synopsis written by Andrew B. Stone for the MNopedia tool of the Minnesota Historical Society below. The productivity, innovation, and advancements made by Lillehei and his expert colleagues, friends and collaborators at the University of Minnesota is so staggering that I would be remiss to provide an inaccurate source. Enjoy!

Chronology
“1942
Lillehei graduates from the University of Minnesota Medical School and joins the army as a surgeon in a mobile army surgical hospital (MASH) unit.
1945
Lillehei returns to University of Minnesota Medical School as a surgical resident under the supervision of Dr. Owen Wangensteen, chairman of the Department of Surgery.
1951
Lillehei finishes his Ph.D. in surgery and becomes a professor of surgery at the University of Minnesota.
1952
On September 2, Lillehei assists his friend and colleague Dr. John Lewis in performing the world’s first successful open-heart surgery.
1953
Dr. John Gibbon performs a successful open-heart surgery in Philadelphia using an artificial heart-lung machine, but these machines are difficult to use and open-heart surgery remains very dangerous. Several surgeons abandon plans for future operations.
1953
Lillehei and his research assistant, Morley Cohen, seize on the idea of using cross-circulation to perform open-heart surgery, and begin experimenting with dogs in their lab.
1954
On March 26, Lillehei performs the world’s first successful open-heart surgery using cross-circulation on thirteen-month-old Gregory Glidden. Glidden dies eleven days later, but an autopsy confirms that his heart defect had been successfully repaired.
1954
Lillehei performs two more successful open-heart surgeries. He announces these successes at a press conference and becomes world-famous.
1955
In collaboration with Dr. Richard DeWall, Lillehei helps to develop a simpler heart-lung machine and oxygen bubbler, making open-heart surgery safer.
1955
On December 9, Lillehei performs his 100th open-heart surgery, but the patient dies after surgery due to heart block.
1957
Lillehei asks Earl Bakken, an electrician at the University of Minnesota, to create a portable, battery-powered device to cure heart block by regulating heartbeat using electricity. (Author’s note: Bakken went on to found the Minnesota-based company Medtronic; a world innovator in pacemakers and medical technology.) ****
1958
On April 14, Lillehei successfully implants the world’s first portable pacemaker into a patient with heart block, saving the patient’s life.” ***

In the end, we may gain the greatest insights into this event and Dr. Lillehei through an interview with his son. Dr. Craig Lillehei, a pediatric surgeon at Boston children’s hospital, said the following about his father ca. 2014.

“The striking thing about him is that he wasn’t afraid of new ideas. And even sometimes crazy ideas. That he would fully consider them and work through it and see, that sometimes doing some experimentation and whatnot, to find out whether they made sense or not. I think that was number one. I think that number two is that he, sort of, knew the big goals and relentlessly pursued those.” *

Shall we begin our supplications by remembering the ancient nature of surgery? Egypt provided the human race with the first written accounts of human surgeries ca. 17th B.C., so all medical research is standing on the shoulders of at least about 3700 years of similar trial and error. We gratefully recount this foundation that provided the basis for modern scientific surgery, Lord! *

We follow that gratitude with a second praise; that You made Dr. Lillehei eternally curious! This man, whose formal education won him five degrees, remained open to new information, and scientifically embraced failures. Perhaps this is why he so consistently entertained solving “impossible” challenges?

In this, we see a refraction of Your nature and example, beloved Messiah. You astounded critics and cynics by embracing impossible outcomes.
“When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:25,26 NIV

A tertiary triumph of the life of Dr. Clarence Walton Lillehei is his example of collaboration, basic trust, and extension of relationship. Though a formidable mind on his own, he forged new paths in science and surgery with friends. And oh, what a cast of incredible human beings he created with: Dr. Owen Wangensteen, Dr. Floyd John Lewis, Morley Cohen, Dr. Richard De Wall, and Earl Bakken to name a few. For these, and surely many others, the State of Minnesota and the human race gives You praise! May we be humbly joyful that You guided all these paths to discovery and greatness; together!

Conversely, we remember also the frailty of the human ego. Quite often, innovators in any field care most about big ideas, and truly want their expertise to better the human race. Being motivated such, it is crucifixion to be blocked or cut out of recognition and acknowledgement! It, for so many doctors and scientists, breaks their hearts and spirits because they are fueled by having a good name rather than wealth. Where we may have failed contributors to science and heart surgery in Lillehei’s era, Will You forgive us? Where corruption, academic pride, or greed trumped researchers, will You have mercy? Will You honor those who silently have contributed so much blessing on the present and future?

As a last thought, we ponder the innovation of cross-circulation. What an apt icon of lovingkindness and self-sacrifice? These scientists and surgeons survived epic wins and failures by providing each others brains with the oxygen of acknowledgement, belief, and radical commitment to their various projects.

In so doing, they cross-circulated the lives of patients with hope. They dreamed impossible dreams, even having to create new vocabulary to describe it to their peers and students. What is this but bringing oxygen to the minds and misbeliefs of others?

We see many present forces running counter to the lofty ideals of Dr. Lillehei. Politicians, more concerned with who gets credit than care, starves the brains of innovation. Insurance providers, sometimes heavily manipulated by the political class, become micro-managers of their patients willingness to risk, thus, starving the bloodstream of hope. We see the limitations of the collectivist utopians and social engineers stifling creative thought, depriving our creatives of the freedom to think. Who will think big and make mistakes in our present and future, if we culturally mandate “correct” thoughts? Are we forcing society into the paradigm of “10 minute heart surgery”?

No! We need more time to fix broken hearts! Ruach ha Kodesh, (Holy Spirt) call on Your counsel to heal us in our sufferings in Minnesota. Your Body, the Ekklesia, dies without collaboration and being present with You and each other! We suffer from arrhythmia of culture; we want to keep beating, but can’t seem to find a common tempo! Will You bless like Dr. Lillehei, to see how our hearts can beat for each other? All is possible in Your Kingdom! Only impart to us belief and basic trust in our fellow man’s heart! Amen.

Standard
20th Century, Business, History, Intercession, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, Medical Technology, Minnesota, omnipresent history, World War I

Artificial Limb Company 1918

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1918

“The Minneapolis Artificial Limb Company contracts with the government to supply replacements for soldiers who lost hands, feet, arms, and legs in the war.” *

“Many of the limb makers were amputees themselves. They got into the business because they wanted to make better limbs. Minneapolis business partners A. E. Tullis and L. W. Balch were both leg amputees. Together, they patented and marketed the “Air Cushion” leg that had an air tube in the socket. E. H. Erickson, another Minneapolis amputee, used photos of himself in his advertisements so potential customers would know that he understood their needs. He also made the legs and arm used by Michael Dowling, a prominent politician and businessman who had lost three limbs to frostbite as a teenager.

In 1918, Minneapolis was hailed as the leading artificial limb manufacturer in the United States. The city’s stake in the global industry continued to grow. In 1938, the city’s nine artificial limb companies earned a combined $200,000 in sales and sold 75 percent of their limbs outside of the state.”**

Jehovah Rapha, we thank You for this mercy for our citizens and others in providing prosthetic limbs to those who endured the hell of the Great War. We thank You for the imagination and expertise of A.E. Tullis, L.W. Balch, E.H. Erickson, and all those unnamed who contributed towards the success of this company and the betterment of their fellow man! Will You bless them, their business, and their heritage of healing in the medical device field? 

Will You teach us from Your words today, and reveal life?

“Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, ‘Stand up in front of everyone.’

Then Jesus asked them, ‘Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or kill?’ But they remained silent. 

He looked at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. then then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.” Mark 3:1-6 NIV

Historically, the Pharisees sought to establish the kingdom of David, and the Herodians sought to put a member of the line of Herod into power. Jesus sought neither political or religious authority because He already possessed it. He used this occasion to demonstrate the power of the Dominion of His King.

Further, He named the elephants in the room: religious and political pride. He refused to bow to the letter of the law that said healing aid breaks the Sabbath if a person’s life is not in danger. He healed to offer tangible, visible evidence that He indeed was and is Lord of the Sabbath. 

So we come to You, Lord of the Sabbath, and mourn this event today. We refused Your wisdom through entrance into the Great War. We sought to assert our political or religious authority over Europe through acts of war. We attempted to simultaneously live at war and live in Your Sabbath rest. Have mercy on us!

 In this case, Minnesota’s citizens paid in blood and the sacrifice of their limbs. Yet, You showed us mercy as we bore the price of our religious and political pride. Through this company, You said, “Stretch out your hand.” You healed thousands of our countrymen! 

Will You reinstate Minnesota into Your Sabbath rest? Will You cause us to desire the way of Sabbath and healing? Will You free us to hear Your offer to “Stretch out your hands?”

**https://www.minnpost.com/mnopedia/2014/07/minnesotas-first-medical-device-industry-artificial-limbs

 

 

Standard