Clarence Walton Lillehei Biography
(American Surgeon Who Pioneered Open-Heart Surgery)
Birthday: October 23, 1918 (Libra)
Born In: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
A pioneer in open heart surgery, Clarence Walton Lillehei was an American cardiac surgeon who was part of the team that performed the world's first successful open-heart operation. Open heart surgery, as commonplace as it is today, was an unimaginable concept just six decades ago. Even up until the 1950s, certain cardiac defects which are fully treatable today were fatal. But thanks to the pioneering work of Dr. Lillehei who designed medical devices that made it possible to support the patient’s blood circulation while the heart was opened and operated upon, many formerly untreatable heart conditions are now easily treatable. Even as a young boy, Clarence was very bright and talented. The son of a dentist, his first career choice was to follow in his father’s footsteps though he later changed his mind to become a medical doctor. He received his medical training from the University of Minnesota and completed his residency under the guidance of Dr Owen Wangensteen who had mentored many a great surgeons. Lillehei was on his way to becoming a brilliant cardiologist when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and given a 10% survival rate. The brave man did not let the devastating news deter his spirit and courageously fought the disease to become one of the foremost cardiologists of all times.