Gibbon Surgical Review



Dr. John Heysham Gibbon, Jr. graduated from Jefferson Medical College in 1927, and in a brief series of events, he was named Fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1930, he found himself assisting Dr. Edward Churchill in an emergency pulmonary embolectomy. At that time the procedure was one of desperation, as no patient in the U.S. had survived the removal of blood clots in open-heart surgery. As Dr. Gibbon recorded the patient’s waning vital signs prior to the procedure he thought, “If only we could remove the blood from her body by bypassing her lungs, and oxygenate it, then return it to her heart, we could almost certainly save her life.” Despite a successful removal of large clots from the patient’s pulmonary artery, she never regained consciousness. This “critical event” initiated Dr. Gibbon’s determination to produce a heart-lung machine.