Professor Jongbloed demonstrates artificial heart in Paris (1951)

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Tuesday, 26 September 2017

1951 -

Some inventions are considered ‘holy grails’. Creating an artificial heart for human beings was a holy grail according to the art of medicine. Jacob Jongbloed, a Dutch professor, demonstrated an artificial heart today in 1951 in Paris. He had constructed a machine doctors had dreamed for since the beginning of modern medicine.

Difficult surgery
Jacob Jongbloed was a physiologist, born in 1895. After his medicine study he became an aviation doctor, but in 1942 he obtained a position of physiology professor to the Utrecht University. Right after World War II he started working on his invention. An artificial heart could make difficult surgery possible, at the inside of a heart. Like an operation on a heart valve. However, the professor found it hard to get it right and experimented on dogs. He concentrated on a second important machine as well; the heart-lung machine.

First artificial heart implant
After his presentation it would still take a long time, before a permanent artificial heart was implanted in a human body. Another Dutch doctor signed up for the job. On December 1982 Willem Kolff transplanted an artificial heart into the body of American Dentist Barney Clark, who was suffering from a severe heart disease. Clark volunteered for the transplantation because he wanted to make a contribution to medicine. After surgery, the dentist lived another 112 days.

360 trivial fact
A regular woman’s heart is beating faster than a man’s heart by almost 8 beats a minute.


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