The heart for centuries was suspected of being a delicate organ; the slightest injury was said to be uniformly fatal. Both the great Billroth and Sir Stephen Paget decreed the organ to lie outside the domain of possible surgery. Yet in reality the heart is a compact muscular organ that, by virtue of highly specialized intrinsic properties, functions continuously throughout the lifetime of the individual. It has an extraordinary capacity to adjust to the changing needs of body circulation. Its inner compulsion toward perpetual function is one of the most critical aspects of the life drive of individuals and species. Only when poisoned or deprived of its flow of nutrient requirements will this persistent organ lie still or lose itself in the quivering death of disorganized activity. A great ability to withstand trauma and to adjust to the stresses imposed by intrinsic disease emphasizes its essential vitality. Given half a
Swan H, Zeavin I, Blount SG, Virtue RW. SURGERY BY DIRECT VISION IN THE OPEN HEART DURING HYPOTHERMIA. JAMA. 1953;153(12):1081–1085. doi:10.1001/jama.1953.02940290013005
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