History of the Health Sciences Lecture Series
Surgical Transgressions? Michael DeBakey, Denton Cooley, and the Controversial Artificial Heart Case of 1969
Shelley McKellar, Ph.D., Jason A. Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine, Western University, London Ontario
Thursday, November 10, 2016
Refreshments, 5:30, Lecture, 6pm
Conference Room 103-A, Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library, Hammer Building
701 West 168th St. at Fort Washington Ave.
Sponsored by the Columbia University Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
During the 1960s, American cardiac surgeons Michael DeBakey and Denton Cooley each performed more successful heart operations than almost any other surgeon in the world. Thousands of heart patients made their pilgrimage to Houston, Texas in hopes of benefiting from the surgical skill of DeBakey or Cooley.
In 1969, Cooley implanted an experimental total artificial heart in heart failure patient Haskell Karp as a bridge to transplantation. As a clinical first, this artificial heart operation stirred tremendous controversy within the medical community and incited a well-publicized feud between DeBakey and Cooley over an accusation of device theft and debatable authorization. The allegation raised significant issues of innovation credit and institutional reputations. Who can claim ownership and does this confer license to decide when ‘the time is right’ to perform an experimental procedure on a human? Was it not premature of Cooley to implant this device in a patient? Focusing on this case, Prof. Shelley McKellar highlights medical disputes, treatment disappointments, the role of the media, and its reverberating effects on the development of artificial hearts thereafter.
Shelley McKellar is Jason A. Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University, London, Ontario. Her research focuses on the history of surgery, predominantly cardiac surgery, medical technology, and the material culture of medicine. She has published a biography of Canadian surgeon Gordon Murray, is co-author of Medicine and Technology in Canada, 1900-1950, and is finishing a book-length research project on the history of artificial heart technology.
In teaching medical students Prof. McKellar aims to have them appreciate the historical and cultural contingency of medical practice – that is – recognize that time and place matter regarding what we think we know and how we practice medicine.
She received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and worked at the Smithsonian Institution before coming to Western University in 2003.
Photo: Michael DeBakey and surgical team, c.1960s. Courtesy Michael DeBakey Papers, National Library of Medicine