The Pacemaker

I always loved my Father very much. He took great care of me and my family growing up. He taught me a good many lessons that are still valuable in my life to this very day. I miss him now that he is gone but I am very thankful that I had so much time with him because in days past, it’s likely that he would not have had nearly as long here with me. You see, my dad had a small problem with his natural pace maker. His heart was strong but it was not the most reliably consistent. Lucky for him, he found out about it and was able to get a pace maker put in without any complications. He wore it for years and years. There would be regular maintenance and testing he would occasionally have to go in for but it worked and worked until the day he died. Which had nothing to do with his heart I might add.

There are approximately 200,000 pacemakers implanted each year. That is a lot of lives that are heavily dependent upon the use of that particular device. Before its invention there were other methods used to assist in the consistent timing of ones heart beat but nothing nearly as effective and that was only for 20 or 30 years. Before that time, people could only live as long as their natural body could support their life on its own. There was no artificial assistance offered. Many people died from a problem that is treated now very easily with a very small piece of equipment. It was a miracle of science and medicine, some might say. I am a firm believer in this too…

When you find out that the artificial pacemaker was discovered by accident it makes you want slow down in order to question exactly how did this happen? It was in the 50’s that Wilson Greatbatch left the Navy and was working as medical researcher. He was working to build an oscillator so he could record heart sounds when he accidentally pulled the wrong resistor out of the box. When he finished assembling his device, it began to set off a rhythmic electric pulse. It was at that point that he realized this invention could possibly be used as an artificial pacemaker. He then spent two more years refining the device and then he was awarded a patent for world’s first implantable pacemaker.

It is really an amazing story. Even now, there are still advancements allowing for better equipment to be produced and used. The pacemaker has a battery. When batteries improve there is a direct correlation to the next generation pacemaker. Soon the first battery will easily outlive the patient.