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Open Heart: Intracardiac Surgery at the University of Minnesota

The Cold Heart

Atrial Septal Defect

Graduate School Application for Grant-In-Aid, "The Use of Refrigeration in Surgery with Special Reference to Cardiac and Cancer Surgery," by F. John Lewis

Grant Application, "The Use of Refrigeration in Surgery..."

In 1951, with funding from the Graduate School, Minnesota Heart Association, and the U.S. Public Health Service, F. John Lewis and Mansur Taufic began to experiment with the use of induced hypothermia to repair an atrial septal defect (ASD) in the open heart. 

An ASD is a congenital heart defect which is caused by a disruption in heart formation before birth.  A hole present in the wall that separates the upper left and right chambers of the heart causes oxygenated blood in the left chamber to mix with de-oxygenated blood in the right, which causes insufficient oxygenation of the major organs and tissues.

Patients suffering from congenital heart defects like ASD face a myriad of health issues, including shortness of breath, swelling, bluish skin discoloration, heart murmur, or irregular beat.