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Cost of Sewell's Pump (The Guthrie Journal Vol. 63, No. 1, Page 6)

Glass tube pumping chamber and connectors (15 X 2.8 cm), cost: $2.50
Valve from "Raspberry" (toy noise maker), cost: $0.10
Venous (polyethelyne) cannula, cost: $0.20
Arterial cannula (glass) made in lab, no cost
Flow meter (200 X 0.25 cm) glass tubing, cost: $5.00
Brombenzyne (SpG 1.4), cost: $3.00
Mercury for manometer, cost: $3.00
Silicone coating of cannula, no cost
Erector set parts, including motor, cost: $9.00
Eccentric cams, cost: $2.00

Reprinted courtesy of "The Guthrie Journal"


Cardiac Pioneer (excerpt from "The Guthrie Journal" article)

Occasionally, an individual will show how an impossible dream is possible; others will further refine this idea, and finally many individuals will help develop the technical details necessary to bring the concept to full fruition. Such innovators are referred to as pioneers. William Sewell was a pioneer in the treatment of coronary artery disease. His work as a medical student on his artificial heart machine heralded the development of the heart lung machine which followed a few years later. This allowed repair of the diseased heart for the first time, and it has led to the dissemination of this marvelous surgery throughout the country and the world.

Dr. Glenn's article in this issue points out that the principle upon which many attempts at perfecting an artificial heart have been based. The genius of this approach to the problem is the simplicity of its design, allowing the pump eventually to become small enough to potentially fit into a person's body. It was a brilliant approach that showed Sewell's ability to make the complicated and unthinkable become reality.

A few years later, Dr. Sewell used this ability to expand on Vineberg's idea of implanting the mammary artery into the myocardium. The result was the Sewell pedicle operation. It was this procedure which first brought William Sewell to Sayre, as illustrated in Dr. Beck's Reflections.

Robert J. Lenox, M.D., Editor

(Reprinted courtesy of "The Guthrie Journal")


"A Prophet in Our House" (excerpt from "The Guthrie Journal" article)

Jesus said, "A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country and in his own house."

Matthew 13:57

Professor William Wallace Glenn, one of America's distinguished surgeons, developer of the radio frequency pacemaker, and author of "Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery" tells us in his description of the Sewell pump (p. 3) that Bill Sewell, our associate, was truly a "Prophet in our house." We may have known it in our hearts, but we never realized how truly prophetic he was.

This issue of our "Journal" we dedicate to his memory with reminiscences of our association with him and thoughts from his colleagues in cardiac surgery.

At dinner a year ago, the Bradford County Medical Society did him honor. His Pedigraft Club has shown him in a large way that their lives are his greatest reward. Dr. Glenn reminds us that Bill and Charles Lindbergh both thought that a heart pump would one day be able to replace the human heart. Lindbergh, with Alexis Carrel, believed that the artificial heart could be used as a workbench to correct diseased organs in vitro. Sewell built a substitute heart which could enable surgeons to correct disease of the heart itself. Then Sewell went on to clinical applications on the human to correct the most devastating disease of all, the destruction of the heart's own life blood.

To Bill the heart was not inviolable. He agreed with Leonardo da Vinci who said, "it is a vessel formed of thick muscle, vivified and nourished by the artery and vein as are other muscles." And Bill devoted his life to see that these vessels would be healed of their illnesses.

William C. Beck, M.D., F.A.C.S.

(Reprinted courtesy of "The Guthrie Journal")


Excerpts from "Reminiscences from Colleagues of Dr. Sewell"

Kenneth Meyer, M.D., F.A.C.S., Retired Associate, Section of General Surgery, Guthrie Clinic, Ltd.

Bill Sewell loved detail. It was that characteristic which enabled him to concentrate on one procedure and led to his unflagging search for the prefect operation. At first, I thought he did the same thing over and over, but I soon realized that his attention to detail meant constant change in what he did.

Immediately after each graft procedure, he and Karlene coded the details of the operation onto their computer form, and there was no conversation with others until that had been finished. Those details were regularly reviewed and compared with prior operations and short and long term results. From these detailed analyses came successive small modifications of the Sewell operation. In addition, he had a detailed manual for his operating room personnel so that each one, and any substitute, knew exactly what to do at each stage of the procedure and how to respond in an emergency.

Bill had "his" operation, but when the effectiveness of direct aorto-coronary artery vein grafts was demonstrated, he promptly adopted those procedures. Then his detailed operative analyses led to constant improvement and the development of the snake graft.

I've never known anyone else who examined his work with such intensity or who used such analyses so creatively. Perhaps it is true, as Einstein said, "God is in the details."

(Reprinted courtesy of "The Guthrie Journal")


Link to non-Smithsonian Web site


Related Images

Editorial column in
Editorial column in "The Guthrie Journal," Volume 63, Number 1, dedicated to William Sewell
Pump assembly diagram,
Pump assembly diagram,"The Guthrie Journal," Volume 63, Number 1

"A Prophet in Our House," "The Guthrie Journal" Volume 63, Number 1
The Place of William H. Sewell in the History of  Heart Surgery
The Place of William H. Sewell in the History of Heart Surgery

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