The Minnesota Invention That Rescued a Boy With a Hole in His Heart
In 1955, Two Researchers Created the Heart-Lung Machine That Would Save Millions of Children’s Lives
Stephen Joseph Brabeck was born in 1950 with a hole in his heart. To survive into adolescence would have been considered exceptionally fortunate at the time.
But Brabeck was lucky; in 1955 he underwent experimental open-heart surgery—made possible by a new heart-lung bypass machine that kept him alive during the procedure. The operation succeeded, and Brabeck lived a long and productive life as a cardiologist. When he passed away in 2018 at his home in Carmel Valley, California, Brabeck was one of the last survivors of a small group of …