1960s Surgery Achievement Timeline


  • Nazih Zuhdi performs the first open heart surgery using the Total Intentional Hemodilution machine (Mercy Hospital, Oklahoma City, OK); procedure adopted in hospitals around the world.
  • William C. Chardackimplants the first fixed-rate cardiac pacemaker with mercury battery, designed by Wilson Greatbatch (licensed to Medtronic Corporation in 1961)
  • The first coronary artery bypass surgery is performed by Drs. Robert Goetz and Michael Rohman using the internal mammary artery as the donor vessel.




  • English orthopedic surgeon John Charnley performs the first successful whole hip replacement operation using a high molecular weight polyethylene (HMWP) socket. 
  • Wade-Dahl-Till valve (WDT), a cerebral shunt, is developed by hydraulic engineer Stanley Wade, author Roald Dahl, and neurosurgeon Kenneth Till to treat hydrocephalus.
  • An immunosuppressive cocktail of azathioprine (1957) and prednisone enables the first successful kidney transplantation to unrelated recipients by Dr. Joseph Murray.
  • Ronald Malt of Massachusetts General Hospital – first successful reattachment surgery.


  • Thomas Starzl performs the first successful liver transplantation at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver. James D. Hardy performs the first lung transplant, University of Mississippi Medical Center. 
  • Ventriloquist Paul Winchell is granted the first patent for an artificial heart. Winchell’s work is aided by Dr. Henry Heimlich, who later develops the Heimlich maneuver to save choking victims. Years later, Winchell signs over his patent rights to Dr. Kolff at the University of Utah.


  • First angioplasty carried out with a catheter-delivered stent on the superficial femoral artery of the leg by Charles T. Dotter (“the father of interventional radiology”).
  • First heart transplantation on a human, using a chimpanzee heart, carried out by surgeon James D. Hardy on Mr. Boyd Rush, but the organ is rejected after a few hours.
  • J.C. Tanner Jr. develops the mesh skin graft.



  • From his studies on ventricular fibrillation, Frank Pantridge introduces the mobile coronary care unit and a portable defibrillator as a key part of pre-hospitalization care; becomes known as the “Father of Emergency Medicine.” Views elaborated in an article in The Lancet, August 1967; develops miniaturized defibrillator for NASA flights in 1968.





  • Dr. Christiaan Barnard and a team (including his brother Marius) perform the first successful human heart transplantation, at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, on Louis Washkansky, who survived for eighteen days before dying of pneumonia.
  • Dr. Rene Favaloro performs the first saphenous vein autograft in coronary artery bypass surgery, at the Cleveland Clinic.
  • Dr. Adrian Kantrowitz performs the first pediatric heart transplant, at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, on a 19-day-old infant, who survived for six hours.
  • Thomas Starzl performs the first successful human liver transplantation at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver.
  • First use, in a case of myocardial infarction, of the intra-aortic balloon pump invented by Dr. Adrian Kantrowitz and his brother Arthur. 
  • Neurosurgeons Jean Talairach and Gabor Szikla create the Talairach coordinates (“atlas”) for brain mapping.
  • “Gamma Knife” invented at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute for the treatment of brain tumors.


  • Dr. Christiaan Barnard performs the second successful human heart transplant, in South Africa, on Philip Blaiberg, who survives for nineteen months.
  • Doctors (Robert A. Good and team) perform the first successful bone marrow transplant, to treat severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID).
  • Indwelling peritoneal dialysis catheter developed by Henry Tenckhoff.


  • Surgeons Denton Cooley and Domingo Liotta implant the first temporary artificial heart.
  • Bioactive glass invented by Larry Hench and colleagues at the University of Florida for replacement/repair of diseased or damaged bone.
  • William F. House successfully implants first cochlear device to restore hearing which he developed in 1962.
  • Japanese technology companies (Olympus Optical Co., Fuji Film, and Hoya Corporation) develop techniques and flexible fiber optic instruments with Beth Israel Medical Center (NY) surgeons to access and evaluate the entire colon and rectum.  Hiromi Shinya and William Wolff perform first colonoscopies; Shinya pioneers the use of a wire loop snare to remove precancerous polyps.
  • Thoracic surgeon Henry Heimlich gets patent on “flutter valve,” used to remove air from the chest in a pneumothorax.


  • The Exeter Hip Stem first implanted at the Princess Elizabeth Orthopedic Hospital in Exeter, England. Developed in 1969 by surgeon Robin Ling and engineer Clive Lee, it is still the gold standard of hip replacement.
  • Nazih Zuhdi performs North America’s first human transplantation of an aortic pig valve.


  • Sir Godfrey Hounsfield’s invention, X-ray computed tomography (CT scan), first used on a patient with a cerebral cyst at Atkinson Morley Hospital in London. 
  • Immunosuppressive effect of ciclosporin discovered by a research team at Sandoz Laboratory (now Novartis) in Basel; approved for clinical use in 1983.
  • Bernard Fisher at the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast & Bowel Project (NSABP) starts a four-year clinical trial with 1700 women to test the effectiveness of radical mastectomy versus a less extensive total mastectomy which limited the surgery to removal of the breast. Results published in 1975 demonstrated that the radical mastectomy-treated women did no better than those treated with total mastectomy – a landmark in breast cancer therapy.




  • The first operation for replacement of the ulnar collateral ligament is performed by orthopedic surgeon Frank Jobe on Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher, Tommy John; this common procedure is called “Tommy John surgery” today.
  • Svyatoslav Fyodorov performs the first operation to remove glass from a boy’s eye in a manner that, over time, is refined into the practice of radial keratotomy to decrease near-sightedness.  


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