Cross two inventive minds—that of C. Walton Lillehei, Minnesota's pioneering heart surgeon, and that of Earl E. Bakken, electrical engineer, TV repairman, and co-founder of Medtronic, Inc.—and what do you get? Answer: the first battery-operated, portable pacemaker, the forerunner of the implantable and highly-refined devices in use today. Their pacemaker was the next evolutionary step in Dr. Lillehei's work in repairing hearts and restoring heart function.
In 1952, after a long process of study, research, experimentation, and practice, Dr. Lillehei performed the first successful open-heart surgery on a human patient who survived. An often-fatal condition—erratic heart rhythm or irregular heartbeat—was his next focus. By applying electric shocks to the heart, he demonstrated that regular rhythm could be restored. That led to development of an electric pacemaker for use during surgery. It was a large machine whose current had to be drawn from an electrical source. Enter now Earl E. Bakken, who provided the technical know-how for designing and developing the device that Dr. Lillehei envisioned. In 1957, Bakken produced a portable, wearable, battery-operated heart pacer that catapulted heart repair to a high plane and launched an industry, three of whose leading corporations—Medtronic, Inc., St. Jude Medical, and Cardiac Pacemakers/Guidant, Inc.—are now located in the Twin Cities area.
GET STARTED WITH SECONDARY SOURCES:
- Electrifying Medicine: How Electricity Sparked a Medical Revolution,
by Brenda L. Himrich and Stew Thornley.
Chapter 3 is especially relevant to this topic.
Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Co., 1995.
MHS call number: RM 872 .H55 1995.
- Electrotherapy in the United States.
A history of electromedicine in America prior to the 20th century, providing the historical antecedents for heart pacing.
Minneapolis: Medtronic, Inc., 1977.
MHS call number: RM 872 .M44.
- The Genius of C. Walton Lillehei and the True History of Open Heart Surgery, by Daniel A. Goor, M.D.
Fresh and thoroughly researched information on one of the most influential—and enigmatic—figures in medicine, Goor's fascinating, insightful biography combines an understanding of both science and the politics involved in the history of the repair and healing of the human heart.
Look at the Table of Contents.
New York: Vantage Press, 2007.
MHS call number: RD 598 .G64 2007.
- Heritage and Essence: Medtronic Defined.
The story of the birth and evolution of Medtronic, Inc. In English, French, and German.
Minneapolis: Medtronic, Inc., 1973.
MHS call number: FOLIO R 856 .M44 A4 1973.
- King of Hearts: The True Story of the Maverick Who Pioneered
Open-Heart Surgery, by G. Wayne Miller.
The story of C. Walton Lillehei. Chapters 11 and 12 are especially relevant to this topic.
New York: Times Books, 2000.
MHS call number: Reading Room RD 598 .M523 2000.
- Machines in Our Hearts: The Cardiac Pacemaker, the Implantable
Defibrillator, and American Health Care, by Kirk Jeffrey.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.
MHS call number: RC 684 .P3 J444 2001.
- Minnesota Medicine.
St. Paul, Minn.: Minnesota Medical Association, 1918-present.
MHS call number: R11 .M6 (in the Serials Collection).
Note: This serial is indexed in MedLine, which is available at the University of Minnesota's Biomedical Library in Diehl Hall.
- The Operation: A Minute-by-Minute Account of a Heart Operation
and the Story of Medicine and Surgery that Led Up to It, by Leonard
Although the book recounts a specific open-heart operation performed by C. Walton Lillehei and Richard L. Varco at the University of Minnesota, it also tells, through flashbacks, about the advances that have made such operations possible, including pacemakers.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1958.
MHS call number: RD 598 .E5.
- Self-Made: The Stories of 12 Minnesota Entrepreneurs,
by Carol Pine and Susan Mundale.
Chapter 2, "Sparks of Life", is about Earl E. Bakken (pp. 38-54).
Minneapolis: Dorn Books, 1982.
MHS call number: F 605 .P56.
WRITINGS BY EARL E. BAKKEN:
- One Man's Full Life, by Earl E. Bakken.
Minneapolis: Medtronic, Inc., 1999.
MHS call number: HD 9994 .U52 B353 1999.
- Reflections on Leadership, by Earl E. Bakken.
Minneapolis: Medtronic, Inc., 1989.
MHS call number: HD 57.7 .B34 1989.
- Cardiac Pacemakers, Inc., Impulse [newsletter], 1975-1980.
MHC call number: RC 684 .P3 I56 (in the Serials Collection).
- Cardio-Pace Medical, Inc., Annual Report, 1985.
MHS call number: HD 9994.1 .C38 A3 (in the Serials Collection).
- Interview with Earl Bakken, Medtronic Founder.
KSTP-TV footage of a March 19, 1985, interview with Bakken in which he talks about the beginnings of Medtronic and some of its products.
MHS call number: Videotape 905 (24 minutes on 2 videocassettes).
- Medtronic Inc.:
- Annual Report, 1966, 1987, 1990.
MHS call number: HD 9994.1 .M42 A3 (in the Serials Collection).
- "Historical Perspective and Mission Statements of Medtronic."
MHS call number: Videotape no. 424 (in the A-V Collection).
- Annual Report, 1966, 1987, 1990.
- Pioneers of the Medical Device Industry in Minnesota Oral History
The project consists of seventeen oral history interviews. The most useful ones for this topic are the interviews with Earl Bakken and C. Walton Lillehei, and an interview with both.
MHS call number: OH87; see the blue Oral History Notebooks for detailed descriptions, or use an electronic version of inventory.
Visit the Medical Device Industry in Minnesota Oral History Project web site for more information about these interviews, including excerpts.
- "Today's Technology and You."
MHS call number: Videotape no. 691 (in the A-V Collection).
- Newspapers that may be useful for this topic:
- Minneapolis Star-Tribune (an index for articles published after 1970 is located in the Hubbs Microfilm Room)
- St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch (an index for articles published in 1967 or after is located in the Hubbs Microfilm Room)
- Check the library catalog for other materials.