Heart and Lung machine [Melrose]
Maker and role
New Electronic Products Limited, Manufacturer
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In 1957, Brian (later Sir Brian) Barratt-Boyes joined Douglas (later Sir Douglas) Robb and others on Auckland's Greenlane Hospital cardiac team. Barratt-Boyes was convinced that the Melrose machine was an essential tool in the development of heart surgery. He asked Douglas Robb to apply to the Hospital Board for £3,000 to purchase the machine. Robb was successful and the machine duly arrived.
When the Senior Technical Officer, Mr Sid Yarrow, unpacked the machine, he discovered that it could not be used as delivered, but required a good deal of alteration and manufacture of parts not included. Major challenges to be met included problems with the venous pump, the oxygenating capacity and frothing of blood. Sterilisation of the heat-sensitive Perspex parts was a major problem to be overcome at that time.
Fortunately, Mr Alfred Melville of the Auckland Industrial Development Laboratory offered to manufacture parts required in their precision workshop.
On 3rd September 1958, an 10 year old girl was successfully operated on by Brian Barratt-Boyes using the Melrose machine to bypass her heart for 25 minutes. This pioneering operation was undertaken at Greenlane Hospital without textbooks or manuals and before the development of the sophisticated disposables and computer aided techniques that are available today.