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Inventors: Alexis Carrel, Charles Lindbergh, and Otto Hopf

How it began: There was a need to keep whole organs alive outside the body in an artificial environment during surgical studies of transplantation.

What it does: An organ in a closed chamber of the hand-blown Pyrex glass apparatus is connected to a glass tubing system that mimics blood circulation. Powered by a separate pump and rotary valve for creating pulsating pressure, the apparatus perfuses an organ continuously with a synthetic blood-like fluid that can be renewed aseptically and filtered automatically.

Impact on medical science: This pump was the demonstration that life could be sustained by a machine that works very much like the heart. It led to developing implantable synthetic hearts and heart-lung machines for open heart surgery in the 1950s.

References: Carrel, A. and Lindbergh, C. The culture of whole organs. Science, 1935, 81: 621-623.

Lindbergh, C.A. An apparatus for the culture of whole organs. Journal of Experimental Medicine, 1935, 62:409-432.

Photograph by Louis Schmidt and Joseph B. Haulenbeck, 1935


Alexis Carrel, Charles Lindbergh, Otto Hopf, perfussion pump, organ translpantation


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