Dr Charles Philamore Bailey, surgeon, was born in the United States on September 8, 1910.

Considered a pioneer of heart surgery by some and father of open-heart surgery by others, Dr Bailey had a fulfilled career.

He was head thoracic surgeon, then head heart surgeon in different hospitals in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.

He wrote books on surgery and later studied Law. He became a consultant for a lawyer’s office and for insurance companies.

In September 1945, he performed an operation on a man with very severer mitral stenosis. Walter Stockton was condemned to death. He was only 37 years old.

The following strategy was published in a medical journal :

  • Open the thorax on the left between the 3rd and 4th rib
  • Expose the heart
  • Perform a circular suture on the left atrium just above the mitral valve.
  • Short incision at the center of the suture in the shape of burse string.
  • Quickly insert your index in the hole to block the bleeding and touch the mitral valve.
  • Try to break up the two mitral leaflets that merged with time.
  • Remove your finger and pull on the circular suture to redo the hole.

The result of this first experience was a total flop!

When he wanted to dry up the blood around his finger, he pulled on the suture to close the hole around his finger. The suture ripped the thin lining of the left atrium. The patient started bleeding himself dry in less than a minute… His death was then confirmed.

Three other deaths occurred. The following deaths were not due to hemorrhage, but rather from a new problem caused by the intervention: a severe and acute impairment of the mitral valve.

He had to change hospitals to continue his experiences, slightly modifying his procedure.

One day, Constance Warner, 24 years of age, becomes one of his patients. This young woman from Philadelphia suffers from acute articular rheumatism despite her age. Her operation for a severe mitral stenosis was a success and no complications arose from it.

A few days later, Dr. Bailey introduces her in front of a full auditorium at the prestigious Annual American College of Chest Physician congress held in Chicago. More and more successful operations were performed in the following years.

In August 1952, he tried to correct the interauricular communication in a 27 year old patient.

His strategy to success was to use the findings of Dr. Bigelow on hypothermia.

His own animal research showed that a 23 degree Celsius hypothermia allows for 12 minutes of surgery without circulation in the heart and in the lungs.

The successful surgery took all but 6 minutes.

He noticed the presence of air in the coronary arteries at the moment the circulation restarted by means of hypothermia. The patient died in front of him due to malignant arrhythmia.

In the 1960s, he studied law and received his diploma. He began a consultant for law firms and for insurance companies.

He stopped performing surgeries in the 1970s.

He himself suffered from an aortic stenosis and was operated on at the age of 81, in Texas, by Dr. Denton Cooley.

He died in 1993.


Dr Bailey's intrument


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