Episode 9-Dr John

Episode 9-Dr John "Jack" Heysham Gibbon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Born in Philadelphia in 1903, John Gibbon graduated from Havard School of medecine in Massachusetts.

During his surgical training, he is called to assist an operation to remove a massive lung clot in a female patient who is suffering from pulmonary embolism following removal of her gall bladder.

After the death of this patient, he asserts that deviating the pulmonary circulation by an external device would have saved this patient.

He began to build a pump, creating an extrecorporeal circulation that can oxygenate the blood of a patient and then be returned to the patient's regular flow.

 

However, this invention has three major obstacles:

- The blood must be oxygenated;

- Avoid blood clot formation in the device;

- Avoid the desstruction of red blood cells.

 

 

He and his wife Marjorie will take more than ten years to develop the prototype. His research is interrupted with the announcement of US participation in the Second World War. For this urpose, he must serve in a hospital in New Caledonia.


He resumes his research upon his return from the war. With the help of engineers from the IBM company, the three conditions necessary for realization of this pump "heart lung" are met.

 

In may 1953, Dr Gibbon correctes an inter-auricular communication (AIC) in a 18-year-old girl, Martha Cowley. The 26-minute operation went very well. She was given her leave from the hospital a few days later. This surgical success became the first heart-lung open-heart surgery and revolutionized the world of cardiac surgery.


On the other hand, his work stopped two months later when the two following surgeries resulted in the death of both patients. The company IBM will anounce two years later thet it abandons the project, evoking changes of orientation.
 

However, the principle of extracorporeal circulation has been taken over and improved by the mayo Clinic. In the years that followed, several hundred patients were succesfully operated on. Postoperative cardiac mortality was 50%in 1955. One year later, it was 25% and 10% in 1957. Today, it is less than 2%, depending on the type of surgery and the diffence diseases of the patient.


Dr Gibbon died of a myocardial heart attack in 1973 at the age of 69.


Today, almost all patients who benefit from surgery are under extracorporeal circulaiton (EOC). In medical jargon, it is said that the patient is under pump.

 

 

 

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