Gibbon-Mayo Pump Oxygenator (Heart-Lung Machine), late 20th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This heart-lung machine was one of the earliest to be used regularly for open-heart surgery. These machines bypass the patient's own heart, oxygenating the blood and pumping it around the body during surgery. For the first time, they made possible operations on common congenital heart problems such as hole-in-the-heart, which had previously caused much illness and early death. Designed by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota,USA, it was a modification of the heart-lung machine developed by the surgeon John Gibbon. His machine had been devised over years of experimentation and was first used for a successful open-heart operation at the Jefferson Hospital, Philadelphia, USA in May 1953. Mayo Clinic staff, Dr Earl Wood and Dr John Kirklin working with engineers from the Custom Engineering and Development Company of St Louis, Missouri, USA, produced this more viable version in 1955.