Born September 29, 1903; died February 5, 1973 at the age of 69.
John Heysham Gibbon was an American surgeon who invented the heart-lung machine. He was pushed into it when in 1930, while a Harvard surgical researcher, he saw a patient undergoing heart-lung surgery suffocate with his own blood. In the late 1940s, Gibbon received financial and technical assistance from IBM Corporation to develop an oxygenator of sufficient capacity for a human. On May 6, 1953, thanks to his improved device, he was able to perform the first successful open-heart operation – the repair of an interatrial communication on 18-year-old Cecelia Bavolek – while maintaining the patient’s heart and lung functions on the device for 26 minutes.