Heart-lung machine, London, England, c. 1955-1960

1955-1960 in London

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Heart-lung machine. Royal Postgraduate Hospital, Hammersmith, c1958. Top three quarter end view of object as displayed
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Heart-lung machine from Royal Postgraduate Hospital Hammersmith c.1958, by New Electronic Products Ltd., English. Designed by D.G Melrose and used in the first open heart operations at that hospital. The blood flows over the rotating discs whilst a current of oxygen is blown across it.

The heart-lung machine performs the functions of the heart and lungs during surgery. A pump takes over the action of the heart, supplying the body with blood. The heart can then be stopped, making it easier to operate on. The patient’s blood flows over the rotating discs where oxygen is blown across it, effectively taking over the action of the lungs.

This machine with a pump oxygenator was conceived by Denis Melrose (1921-2007) at the Postgraduate Medical School in Hammersmith, London, in the early 1950s. Melrose also developed a way to stop the heart beating during heart surgery using potassium citrate. The technique is still used today and is called cold cardioplegia. This machine was the first to be used in open heart surgery operations at the Postgraduate Medical School.


Object Number:
aluminium alloy, copper (alloy), glass, phenolic board, metal (ferrous), plastic (unidentified), rubber (unidentified)
heart-lung machine
Hammersmith Hospital (Dept. of Med. Phy)
Loan: Wellcome Trust

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