Cardiac surgery in the age of the dinosaurs

Replogle, Robert L.
May 2003
Perfusion;May2003, Vol. 18 Issue 3, p171
Academic Journal
This symposium, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first successful use of the heart-lung machine, sponsored by the American Academy of Cardiovascular Perfusion, provides an opportunity to reflect on the circumstances of the time and the character of the people who made the important contributions for this important achievement. Like so many advances in technology, many of the contributors received little recognition for their efforts, but history has been unusually accurate in awarding credit for the development of cardiac surgery to the real pioneers. While John and Mary Gibbon did much of their experimental work in the late 1930s, the advent of the second world war had both a negative and positive effect on the development of cardiothoracic surgery. Wars customarily have stimulated progress in medicine, particularly the surgical aspects, and the second world war had such a benefit. The media spent days looking for the negligence at NASA that was the cause of the accident. The odds of dying in an airline crash are of the order of one in two million. However, the odds of a disaster in a space shuttle mission are now one in 55 (113 missions with two disasters). The author is of the opinion that is pretty good under the circumstances. All early surgeons agree that they would be able to do the work that led to the development of cardiac surgery.


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