Skip to main content

John Heysham Gibbon papers

Identifier: MSS 2/204

Scope and Contents

The collection contains a set of schematic drawings and plans of the heart lung machine developed in the 1950s by the International Business Machines Corporation for John Heysham Gibbon. The plans are numbered, 288-0100 to 2880314 and 288-0350 to 288-0469, and filed in numerical sequence. The collection contains 344 items.

The plans, produced from 1950 to 1954 and approved in 1954, concern Model III of the machine and incorporate minor refinements and design changes on Model II, which was the first used successfully with human patients. The Model III was the last heart lung machine built by IBM; it was smaller than the previous model and simplified. It could handle a greater blood supply as well as keep a constant volume of blood flowing through the patient. Blood temperature and pressure controls were also refined.

The heart lung machine pumped to oxygenate blood outside the body, thereby enabling a surgeon to bypass the heart. This development opened the way for all open heart surgery, repair, and transplantation.


  • 1950 - 1954


Biographical / Historical

John Heysham Gibbon, Jr., son of physician John H. Gibbon, was born in Philadelphia on 29 September 1903. He married Mary ("Maly") Hopkinson in 1931; they had four children. Gibbon died on 5 February 1973.

Gibbon received an A.B. from Princeton University in 1923, then an M.D. from Jefferson Medical College in 1927. After an internship at Pennsylvania Hospital, he became a Fellow in Surgery at Harvard Medical School, 1930-1934, then a Fellow in Surgical Research at the University of Pennsylvania, 1936-1942. After service in World War II, Gibbon joined the faculty at Jefferson Medical College as professor of surgery and director of surgical research. He developed and perfected an extracorporeal heart lung machine for use during vascular surgery; it was first used successfully with a human patient at Jefferson in May 1953.

Gibbon was a member of many professional organizations, including the American Surgical Association, American Association of Thoracic Surgery, the Society for Clinical Surgery, and the Society for Vascular Surgery. He was elected to fellowship in the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 1934 and later served as its president.


2 boxes

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The plans for the Gibbon Heart Lung Machine, Model III, were donated to the Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia by Lewis Bluemle in 1983. Dr. Bluemle had received the plans from Hans Christian Engell of Copenhagen, Denmark, who had been given them by John Heysham Gibbon. In 1982, the plans were used to construct a replica of the Model II heart lung machine on display in the Mutter Museum.

The plans were transferred to the Historical Collections in 1991 and processed and catalogued.
John Heysham Gibbon papers
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Repository

19 S. 22nd Street
Philadelphia PA 19103 United States