Correspondence, F.E. Duckert of Physicians and Hospital Supply Company to Dr. Frederick Van Bergen regarding a portable pacemaker
Following a power outage in Minneapolis on October 31, 1957, the need for a portable battery-operated pacemaker for patients with post-operative heart block became imperative. To treat heart block - a condition in which sutures placed within the heart to close a congenital defect disrupt the normal heart rhythm - a myocardial electrode was placed upon the heart and connected by wire to a Grass Physiological Stimulator. The device, which had to be plugged in to a wall outlet, provided a small electric current that "paced" the heart back into normal sinus rhythm.
This letter indicates that Dr. Frederick Van Bergen (1914-1996), head of the Department of Anesthesiology, who often assisted Dr. C. Walton Lillehei and his team during open heart operations, corresponded with the Physicians and Hospital Supply Co. in regards to the development of a portable battery-operated pacemaker. The letter was likely forwarded to Lillehei by Van Bergen as indicated by the handwritten note, "Walt - please note and have boys purchase! - Van."