Open heart surgery is a surgery in which the patient's heart is open and surgery is performed on the internal structures of the heart. It was soon discovered by Dr. Wilfred G. Bigelow of the University of Toronto that the repair of intracardiac pathologies was better done with a bloodless and motionless environment, which means that the heart should be stopped and drained of blood. The first successful intracardiac correction of a congenital heart defect using hypothermia was performed by Dr. C. Walton Lillehei and Dr. F. John Lewis at the University of Minnesota on September 2, 1952. The following year, Soviet surgeon Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Vishnevskiy conducted the first cardiac surgery under local anesthesia. During this surgery, the heart is exposed and the patient's blood is made to bypass it.
Surgeons realized the limitations of hypothermia: complex intracardiac repairs take more time and the patient needs blood flow to the body, particularly to the brain. The patient needs the function of the heart and lungs provided by an artificial method, hence the term cardiopulmonary bypass. Dr. John Heysham Gibbon at Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia reported in 1953 the first successful use of extracorporeal circulation by means of an oxygenator, but he abandoned the method, disappointed by subsequent failures. In 1954 Dr. Lillehei realized a successful series of operations with the controlled cross-circulation technique in which the patient's mother or father was used as a 'heart-lung machine'. Dr. John W. Kirklin at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota started using a Gibbon type pump-oxygenator in a series of successful operations, and was soon followed by surgeons in various parts of the world.
Nazih Zuhdi performed the first total intentional hemodilution open heart surgery on Terry Gene Nix, age 7, on February 25, 1960, at Mercy Hospital, Oklahoma City, OK. The operation was a success; however, Nix died three years later in 1963. In March, 1961, Zuhdi, Carey, and Greer, performed open heart surgery on a child, age 3½, using the total intentional hemodilution machine. In 1985 Dr. Zuhdi performed Oklahoma's first successful heart transplant on Nancy Rogers at Baptist Hospital. The transplant was successful, but Rogers, a cancer sufferer, died from an infection 54 days after surgery.