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CURRICULUM IN CARDIOLOGY - HISTORY OF MEDICINE
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 115-117

“Vulnerato corde homo vivere non potest” (“Man can not live with a wounded heart”)


Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, AIIMS, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication20-Nov-2017

Correspondence Address:
V Devagourou
AIIMS, New Delhi
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jpcs.jpcs_40_17

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  Abstract 


The first ever successful cardiac surgery was a repair of a stab wound of the right ventricle by Dr Ludwig Rehn from Frankfurt, Germany on 7th September 1896. It required Dwight Harken to successfully operate on bomb victims of world war II and to save more than 100 soldiers to open the heart to surgical techniques. He operated on 130 soldiers without a single fatality. This article recalls these two moments of cardiac surgery.

Keywords: Cardiac surgery, Dwight Harken, History, Ludwig Rehn


How to cite this article:
Devagourou V. “Vulnerato corde homo vivere non potest” (“Man can not live with a wounded heart”). J Pract Cardiovasc Sci 2017;3:115-7

How to cite this URL:
Devagourou V. “Vulnerato corde homo vivere non potest” (“Man can not live with a wounded heart”). J Pract Cardiovasc Sci [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 May 20];3:115-7. Available from: http://www.j-pcs.org/text.asp?2017/3/2/115/218811




  Introduction Top


In 1896, a British surgeon said that “Surgery of the heart has probably reached the limit set by nature to all surgery; no new method and no new discovery can overcome the natural difficulties that attend a wound of the heart.” It was soon after that a German surgeon Ludwig Rehn repaired a stab wound in the heart and started the era of cardiac surgery [Figure 1]. In this article, we discussed the beginning of cardiac surgery and its two of its pioneers.
Figure 1: Indian Postage Stamp celebrating 100 years of Cardiac surgery showing the first RV repair on the left side and a heart transplant on the right side.

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  Ludwig Rehn Top


Ludwig Wilhelm Carl Rehn (1849–1930) was a German surgeon born in 1849 [Figure 2], in the village of Allendorf, and studied medicine at the University of Marburg. He became best known as the first surgeon who successfully repaired an injured heart. On September 7, 1896, Wilhelm Justus, a gardener, had been stabbed in the chest and admitted. On September 9, 1896, when Dr. Rehn saw this patient dying, he decided to operate and managed to successfully close the 1.5 cm wound in the right ventricle [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4].
Figure 2: Ludwig Rehn.

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Figure 3: The original description by Rehn.

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Figure 4: The translation of Rehn's paper.

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Rehn's success did not open the floodgates to cardiac surgery as expected. It had to wait for another great surgeon Dwight Harken. Dwight Harken managed to remove bullets and shrapnel from almost 130 soldiers in World War II without a single mortality and opened the heart to surgical repair.


  Dwight Harken Top


Dwight Harken (1910–1993) was born in 1910 in Iowa, United States, and educated in Harvard University. Besides his major achievements as a cardiac surgeon, he also founded the concept of surgical intensive care units. He started “Mended Hearts,” a foundation to provide emotional support for patients. He also created Heart House which currently houses the American College of Cardiology. He also had many firsts to his credit – the first closed mitral valvuloplasty, developing and implanting the first caged ball valve, also involved in the intraaortic balloon pump and the first demand pacemakers. When he successfully operated on the soldiers in World War II without a single mortality, he was called courageous. He responded by saying: “It is the patients who have the lion's heart. It has been my privilege to give the roar [Figure 5].”
Figure 5: Dwight Harken.

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“Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time.

Footprints, that perhaps another,

Sailing o'er life's solemn main

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,

Seeing, shall take heart again.”

-Longfellow


Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.




    Figures

  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5]



 

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  In this article
   Abstract
  Introduction
  Ludwig Rehn
  Dwight Harken
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