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History Of Heart Surgery

Up till the late 19th century the heart was considered too important and fragile to operate on, and the diagnosis of a serious heart condition often meant death. Dr. Daniel Hale Williams (1856 – 1931) an African American surgeon was bold and daring to go against the medical philosophy of the era by performing the first operation on the human heart on a patient with a stab wound to the heart on July 9, 1893 at Provident Hospital, Chicago. Further major development in heart surgery however awaited the invention of the heart lung machine by Dr. John Gibbon from Thomas Jefferson Hospital, Philadelphia with his first clinical application of the machine on May 6, 1953 in a patient with congenital heart defect.

Many other early pioneers and contributors to the development of heart surgery included Dr. Clarence Crafoord from Sweden, Dr. Walton Lillehei from University of Minnesota, Dr. John Kirklin from the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Michael Debakey and Dr. Denton Cooley from Houston and Sir Brain Barratt-Boyes from New Zealand to mention but a few.

In the subsequent last half decade since the heart lung machine, cardiac surgery has become a daily routine in most parts of the World except in Africa especially sub Saharan African where it is nonexistent in most countries in the sub region.

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