Skip Navigation Bar

Guide to Collections Relating to the History of Artificial Internal Organs


Texas Heart Institute


P.O. Box 20345, MC 3-117, Houston, Texas 77225-0345


(713) 794-6569

Fax Number

(713) 791-3089


Contact Person

Maureen Kovacik, Public Affairs Office


Access and Services

Appointment required.


The Texas Heart Institute, founded in 1962 by Dr. Denton A. Cooley, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the devastating toll of cardiovascular disease through innovative programs in research, education and patient care. More than 35 years later, the Institute's success cannot be counted simply in time, but in new knowledge and discoveries that have advanced the progress against cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Through its innovative programs in research and education, Texas Heart Institute has been the scene of a variety of exciting developments about the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Among these are the first successful heart transplantation in the U.S., the first implantation of an artificial heart in man in the world, breakthroughs in the treatment of infants born with congenital defects, and effective methods of preventing heart attacks by reducing the formation of blockages in the arteries.



Texas Heart Institute Collection, 1962-2001

Collection ID



Biographical Note

Denton A. Cooley, M.D., president and surgeon-in-chief, founded the Texas Heart Institute in 1962. He is chief of Cardiovascular Surgery at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, consultant in Cardiovascular Surgery at Texas Children's Hospital and a clinical professor of Surgery at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. A world-renowned surgeon, he has pioneered many techniques used in cardiovascular surgery. He performed the first successful human heart transplant in the United States in 1968. In 1969, he became the first heart surgeon to implant an artificial heart in man. Cooley and his associates have performed more than 98,000 open heart operations--more than any other group in the world.

Collection Description

The Texas Heart Institute collection consists of early prototypes, photos and some historical documentation. Presently, some of these items are on display outside the Public Affairs Office, a display that was mounted in 1989 by the Scientific Publications section to inform patients of past and present cardiovascular treatments at the Texas Heart Institute. It is an attractive and informative display, and includes the following historical materials:

    • Early photos, c. 1955-57 - children being anesthetized
    • Double lumen breathing tubes, first used 1968
    • Mechanical ventilator for infants, 1958
    • Bentley Spiraflo BOS-25 Infant bubble oxygenator, 1983
    • Photos - O.R. c. late 1950s - including DeWall-Lillehei pump oxygenator first used at THI, 1956; Stainless steel oxygenator developed by researchers at THI, 1957
    • Commissurotomy knife, c. 1948
    • Potts-Richter pulmonary valvulotome and dilator, c. 1948
    • Cooley sternotomy knife, c. 1958
    • Clamps (about 12), c. 1945-58
    • Bjork-Shiley tilting disc valve, c. 1976
    • St. Jude Medical low-profile bi-leaflet valve, c. 1989
    • Valves (about 18), c. 1950-1984
    • Retractors and holders
    • Dacron grafts
    • Suture needles
    • Symbion Jarvik-7 TAH, c. 1986
    • Thermo Electron abdominal LVAD, c. 1975
    • HeartMate LVAD, c. 1986
    • Intraaortic balloon pump, c. 1989
    • Nimbus Hemopump, c. 1988
    • Akutsu-III TAH, c. 1981 - ** in separate case in center of room -- ** significant artifact
    • Pacemakers (more than 20), c.1962-1989 - including Medtronic Chardack-Greatbatch pacemaker, 1962; English Demand pacemaker, 1968; Cordis Corporation Ventric. Fixed-Rate pacer, 1972; CPI Maxilith Bipolar Demand pulse generator, 1972

An in-house museum is currently being planned, and its first display will mounted in the new Denton Cooley Building, scheduled to open in December 2001. Additional artifacts and materials are being collected and prepared for this exhibit.

Finding Aid


Permission required.

Related Material

Cardiovascular Surgery Research Laboratories Wall Panels -- In the hallway outside of the CV surgery laboratory, there are attractive panels detailing THI history of cardiovascular devices (photos and artwork). Included in these panels are photos and descriptions of: Liotta TAH, 1969; Intraaortic balloon pumps, late 1960s; Theramedics LVAD, c. 1975-78; Akutsu III TAH, 1984; Jarvik 7 TAH, 1982; HeartMate Implantable pneumatic LVAS, 1986; Hemopump Cardiac Assist System, 1988; Abiomed BVS-5000, 1988; HeartMate VE LVAS, 1992. This display presents the evolution in devising such devices, changing goals of bridge-to-transport vs. permanent TAH vs. bridge-to-recovery.

St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, Lobby Display Cases (4 display cases), mounted by Auxiliary group of Hospital -- an eclectic display of medical instruments used in hospital as well as hospital publications showcasing hospital cases, contributions to treatment, etc. Materials displayed include: doctor's bag, bed pans, nursing caps, THI Today publication on Heart Assist Devices (Spring 1986), Life Magazine (September 1981) "Artificial Heart is Here"; photo of Akutsu III TAH, pacemakers.