History of Pacemakers

History of Pacemakers

Ambience, heartbeat
Villafana: This particular product came about when Dr. C. Walton Lillehei, who went on to become the most prominent heart surgeon of the world, had started doing heart operations on kids, little kids.

The Pacemaker applies an electrical impulse to stimulate the beating of the heart. It’s saved many lives and part of its story begins in a Minneapolis operating room in the 1950s. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Villafana: It was an unusual operation in that there was no way of keeping a heart alive while trying to operate, because you couldn’t oxygenate the patient.

Manny Villafana is one of Minnesota’s medical pioneers, involved in developing many important cardiac devices, including pacemakers and heart valves.

Villafana: So Walt Lillehei came up with the idea in which he would take the mother or the father of the child, and connect the parent to the child and use the parent’s heart and lungs to oxygenate and pump the blood for the child. And he was very successful, but sometimes you injured the conduction system of the heart of the child, and the child would die. So they had an external pacemaker, which was the size of a chair. It would plug into the wall and then a couple wires would go onto the heart and the child would be kept alive. Very basic idea, very good idea.

Dr. Lillehei collaborated with inventor Earl Bakken of the Medtronic Company to add a battery and miniaturize the device with the help of the newly invented transistor. It led to the development of the implantable pacemaker, still in use today.

Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, presenting Places of Invention, a new exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

History of Pacemakers

The original cardiac pacemaker was roughly the size of a chair!
Air Date:06/23/2015
Scientist:
Transcript:

History of Pacemakers

Ambience, heartbeat
Villafana: This particular product came about when Dr. C. Walton Lillehei, who went on to become the most prominent heart surgeon of the world, had started doing heart operations on kids, little kids.

The Pacemaker applies an electrical impulse to stimulate the beating of the heart. It's saved many lives and part of its story begins in a Minneapolis operating room in the 1950s. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Villafana: It was an unusual operation in that there was no way of keeping a heart alive while trying to operate, because you couldn't oxygenate the patient.

Manny Villafana is one of Minnesota's medical pioneers, involved in developing many important cardiac devices, including pacemakers and heart valves.

Villafana: So Walt Lillehei came up with the idea in which he would take the mother or the father of the child, and connect the parent to the child and use the parent's heart and lungs to oxygenate and pump the blood for the child. And he was very successful, but sometimes you injured the conduction system of the heart of the child, and the child would die. So they had an external pacemaker, which was the size of a chair. It would plug into the wall and then a couple wires would go onto the heart and the child would be kept alive. Very basic idea, very good idea.

Dr. Lillehei collaborated with inventor Earl Bakken of the Medtronic Company to add a battery and miniaturize the device with the help of the newly invented transistor. It led to the development of the implantable pacemaker, still in use today.

Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, presenting Places of Invention, a new exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.