Download Poster

Download Full Text (1.4 MB)


On May 6, 1953 at Jefferson Medical College Hospital, Dr. John Heysham Gibbon, Jr., his staff, and with the help of his latest-designed heart-lung machine, “Model II,” closed a very serious septal defect between the upper chambers of the heart of eighteen-year-old Cecelia Bavolek. This was the first successful intercardiac surgery of its kind performed on a human patient. Ms. Bavolek was connected to the device for three-quarters of an hour and for 26 crucial minutes, the patient totally depended upon the machine’s artificial cardiac and respiratory functions. “Jack” Gibbon did not follow this epoch-making event by holding an international press conference or by swiftly publishing his achievements in a major medical journal. In fact he later recalled that it was the first and only time that he did not write his own operative notes (which were supplied by Dr. Robert K. Finley, Jr.). According to a recent biographical review by C. Rollins Hanlon, “Therein lies a hint of the complex, unassuming personality behind the magnificent technical and surgical achievement of this patrician Philadelphia surgeon.”

Publication Date



History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Medicine and Health Sciences

Dr. John H. Gibbon, Jr. and Jefferson's Heart-Lung Machine: Commemoration of the World's First Successful Bypass Surgery