Michelle Bachmann (R) MN. Dishonest About Minnesota Innovation

Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 | Posted by Chico Brisbane | Labels: , , ,

Michelle Bachmann (R) MN takes liberty with the truth while talking with The Fox News Channels Sean Hannity. While spinning the public discourse surrounding health reform, Bahmann told Hannity that Minnesota was known for innovation and that "a gentleman invented the pacemaker in his garage." which doesn't exactly jive with reality.

Canadian, John Hopps invented the first cardiac pacemaker. While experimenting with radio frequency heating to restore body temperature, Hopps made an unexpected discovery: if a heart stopped beating due to cooling, it could be started again by artificial stimulation using mechanical or electric means. This lead to Hopps' invention of the world's first cardiac pacemaker in 1950.

Wilson Greatbatch invented a newly-designed cardiac pacemaker and a corrosion-free lithium battery to power it Patent Number(s) 3,057,356 - Born in Buffalo, New York, Greatbatch attended Cornell University and graduated with a B.E.E. in electrical engineering in 1950. Improvements had been made upon the two men's earlier work by creating the Chardack-Greatbatch pacemaker in 1960.

It used Mallory mercuric oxide-zinc cells for its energy source, then coupled to electrodes placed into the myocardium of the patient's heart. It was this patented innovation that led to the Medtronic company of Minneapolis commencing manufacture and further development of cardiac pacemakers, but by no stretch of the imagination was it the inventor of the pacemaker.

Well.....unless you're Rep. Michelle Bachmann. Then there is no telling how far the imagination can stretch. Historical reports to confirm that Medtronic got it's start in a garage in northeast Minneapolis as a repair service specializing in medical equipment.


  1. Guest said...
  2. While I agree that Bachmann is truly insane and a great representative for the conservative right, as they all tend to be on another planet...eg the world is 6,000 years old, dinosaurs didn't exist, rapture, etc...., the first wearable external battery operated pacemaker was created in a garage in Minneapolis by Earl Bakken founder of Medtronic and first implanted in a patient by Dr. C. Walton Lillehei in 1957. The device was powered by a 9v mercury battery.

    The fully implantable device was created by Greatbach & Dr. William Chardick doing research at the VA in Buffalo NY along sided Andrew Gage in 1960. They published the paper "A transistorized, self-contained, implantable pacemaker for the long-term correction of complete heart block" in 1960.

    The Medtronic pacemaker had already been implanted in over 300 patients by 1960.

    Just an FYI.

  3. Guest said...
  4. I think the statement that Bachmann made was that the pacemaker "was invented" in someones garage in Minneapolis and the answer to that question is no, it was not. Al Gore made a similar claim that was footloose and fancy free with the facts about inventing the internet. He did not.

  5. Chico Brisbane said...
  6. I did read that MedTronic had one of it's pacemakers test trialed on a pediatric patient on their website, but it was also clear that In the United States, the first successful attempts at designing a totally implantable pacemaker were reported by Drs. William Chardack and Andrew Gage at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Buffalo, New York. The three men carried out more than two years of experimental work and testing, then published a paper about their work in 1960.

    When Medtronic's founder read the article he contacted the researchers and  Palmer Hermundslie flew to Buffalo to meet Dr. Chardack and Greatbatch, and signed a contract giving Medtronic exclusive rights to produce and market the Chardack-Greatbatch implantable pulse generator. Within two months of beginning production in late 1960, Medtronic had received orders for 50 of the $375 implantable units. Why MedTronic never filed for a patent in 1957 when Dr's at the UofM had such great sucess with their divice, I do not know. But that fact denies them the claim of inventing the pacemaker, it makes Rep. Bachmanns statement false. Thus, the premise of my blog post, but I am interested in where I can find information about these 300 trial study patients. I'd like to know more about that.

    Thanks for the FYI

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