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Dr. Glenn came to Yale in 1948 as the first Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery, under Chairman Gustaf Lindskog. He achieved world-wide recognition as a surgeon, scientist and educator. He was a distinguished pioneer in the creation of the heart lung machine, the first working model is at the Smithsonian in Washington,

In 1950, Dr. Glenn and third-year medical student William H. Sewell fashioned a crude heart pump out of such materials as glass tubing, valves bought at a dime store, and a motor from a child's Erector set. The Erector pump is now in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The assembled pump attached to the cam-lever unit driven by a small Erector™ set motor which opens the suction and pressure lines alternately, for the purpose of forcing blood through and out of the pumping chambers. The hand on the right supports the outflow end of the pump and attached pulmonary cannula while the hand on the left supports the inflow end of the pump and the single atrial cannula. In other experiments, the right atrium was isolated by removing the systemic venous return with a single venae cavae cannula.

Yale used his pump in 1951 to study the 'character of coronary blood flow and devise methods for its safe removal from the open heart. In 1952, with a commerciallymade version of Sewell's pump (only one was made) in conjunction with a donor animal to provide oxygenation for the subject animal, experiments on the prevention of air embolism from the open heart were carried out employing electrically induced ventricular fibrillation.

Bill Sewell built his pump from pieces of a child's Erector set, odds and ends from ordinary laboratory supplies, and dime store items. The total cost was $24.80.

From the Yale Vascular History Powerpoint.


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Cardiovascular Surgery, Surgeon