The Bubbled Heart
After a series of successful trials on dogs in the research laboratory, heart surgeon C. Walton Lillehei and assistant Richard DeWall first utilized the DeWall Bubble Oxygenator apparatus to bypass circulation for open heart surgery on May 13, 1955. Despite successfully closing a ventricular septal defect, the patient died during recovery 18 hours after surgery. Between May 13 and August 9, 1955, the oxygenator was used for operation on 7 patients, 5 of whom survived with complete correction of their heart defects.
By the summer of 1955, use of the DeWall Bubble Oxygenator was favored for open heart surgery at the University of Minnesota Medical Center.