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Throwback Thursday: The pioneer and the prototype

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the invention of the artificial heart pump prototype. In 1949, William H. Sewell Jr., MD, a third-year Yale medical student, built the forerunner of the artificial heart as his thesis project. Sewell and his academic advisor, cardiothoracic surgeon William W.L. Glenn, MD, constructed the pump for under $25 using ordinary lab equipment and the motor from a toy Erector Set. The mechanical heart pump was one of the first functional pumps to successfully bypass the right side of the heart, allowing for open-heart surgery. Pictured here in 1949 in the lab are (l-r): Dr. Glenn, Paul Lurie, MD, and Dr. Sewell.

Photo and caption courtesy of the YNHH Archives

The Bulletin 02/22/2024