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November 25, 1968

Development of the Artificial Heart and Lung Extracorporeal Blood Circuit

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia.

JAMA. 1968;206(9):1983-1986. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03150090059014

Many well-documented accounts of the development of the artificial heart and lung extracorporeal blood circuit have been published. There is no merit in duplicating these scholarly histories. However, a personal narration of the origin and development of the artificial heart and lung extracorporeal blood circuit, hereinafter referred to more briefly, but less elegantly, as the "heart-lung machine" may prove of interest.

The idea of constructing an artificial heart-lung machine occurred to me in 1931, because of circumstances surrounding the death of a patient from a massive pulmonary embolism. I was then a research fellow in surgery at Harvard, working under the direction of Edward D. Churchill, MD, at the Massachusetts General Hospital. At 3 P.M. one day early in 1931 a patient, who had had her gallbladder removed 15 days before, had a massive pulmonary embolism heralded by a severe pain in the chest and accompanied by a fall in