GM General Motors Dodrill-GMR 1952 Heart Pump Display Harper Hospital Detroit MI





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Uploaded on Mar 7, 2010

In 1952, Dr. Forest Dodrill, a surgeon at Wayne State Universitys Harper Hospital and President of the Michigan Heart Association, was absolutely confident that a machine could be developed to temporarily replace the human hearts blood-pumping function and make open heart surgery possible. Several previous devices had been used during surgery with animals. But the issues of how to preserve red corpuscles when blood was pumped through a machine as well as how to prevent blood clotting, hemorrhaging, and infection had to be addressed before a machine could be used for heart surgery on humans.

Dr. Dodrill and his medical team turned to a team of scientists and engineers at the General Motors Research Laboratories, then located in the GM Building Annex in Detroit, to help develop and then build a mechanical heart that would address all these issues.

The result was the Dodrill-GMR Mechanical Heart, built by the GM Research Laboratories at no cost, in the public interest. It measured 10 inches by 12 inches by 17 inches and was described as resembling a 12-cylinder engine, with 6 separate chambers (looking like cylinders). With parts made of stainless steel, glass, and rubber, it used air pressure and vacuum pumps to circulate blood from the 12 chambers through the patients body while the heart was being operated on.

The Dodrill-GMR Mechanical Heart (often called the artificial heart or heart pump) was used successfully for the first time in a surgery performed on 41-year-old man at Harper Hospital in the fall of 1952.

The Dodrill-GMR Mechanical Heart is a 12-cylinder pump for temporarily replacing the human heart during heart surgery. It was the first mechanical heart in the world used successfully to keep a patient's entire bloodstream circulating. This mechanical heart was designed, built and tested cooperatively by Harper Hospital in Detroit, the Michigan Heart Association, and General Motors Research Laboratories (GMRL) (originally a 6 pump unit) in the early 1950s. It has been referrred to as a landmark in cooperative research between medical men and engineers. Medical Science was a auxiliary exhibit by GM Research in the Applied Research section of the Avenue of Progress-New York World's Fair.

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