John Muir Medical Center to Dedicate its First Heart-Lung Bypass Machine at Special Event in Concord

John Muir Medical Center, Concord’s very first, historic heart-lung machine will be celebrated during a dedication ceremony on Monday, April 29 at the hospital, where it will be placed on permanent display.

During the years 1974 through 1984, this machine was used in over 1,000 cardiac surgeries. On Monday, 90-year-old Pat Devaney, the third patient ever to receive the surgery at John Muir Medical Center, will be on hand to speak to reporters about his experience.

This machine is an important piece of local health care history and was purchased by cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Nils Parson, back when this procedure was new. At the time, it was extremely rare for a community hospital to have this capability.

In 1969, Dr. Parson began the development of the Cardiac Surgery Program at John Muir, which was then called Concord Community Hospital. On December 17, 1974, the team of Drs. Parson, Rolf Sommerhaug and Steven Wolfe performed the first coronary artery bypass graft procedure at the hospital using this machine, which was used to pump oxygen into the blood and remove carbon dioxide during heart surgery.

Dr. Parson, who has donated the machine to John Muir Health, will be available to answer questions at the event, as will Kim Burch, Executive Director of Cardiovascular Services at the hospital.

The first successful use of a heart-lung machine was in 1953, and was considered revolutionary at the time. Cardiovascular surgery has come a long way since then. Today, new technology has led to less invasive forms of surgery and (in some cases) the continued beating of the heart throughout surgery without the use of the heart-lung machine.

For example, John Muir Health offers one of the few health systems in the Bay Area and the country to perform transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedures, which can replace a severely stenotic (narrowed) aortic valve without open-heart surgery.

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