The Museum of Health Care receives a wide variety of gift offers over the course of a year, ranging from surgical instruments and nursing notebooks, to diagnostic equipment and healthcare-themed games and toys. Many of these donations relate to healthcare themes more generally, but in special cases, some document the careers of individual practitioners.
Such is the case with a donation the Museum received in 2010 from Mr. Jean Fortin, a retired marketing specialist in biomedical products. Mr. Fortin’s story intrigued me when he first contacted the Museum. He wanted to offer us a small collection of papers documenting his role in the early 1960s in the development of an artificial placenta at the University of Alberta. This project was led by Dr. John C. Callaghan, a cardiac surgeon at the university hospital noted for setting up the its open heart surgery unit in 1956 and performing the first successful cardiac operations in Canada using the heart-lung pump. He had previously worked in Toronto in the early 1950s with Dr. W.G. Bigelow to develop a first-generation intravenous pacemaker, an ancestor of modern day pacing. (more…)