Science for You: Defibrillators and blood pressure monitors

Premature baby in incubator
Les Geddes (1921-2009), the Showalter Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Engineering, created innovations ranging from burn treatments to miniature defibrillators and ligament repair to tiny blood pressure monitors for premature infants.

His most recent discovery was a new method for performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation that has advantages when compared to standard CPR.

“Les Geddes had an exceptional gift for motivating students and exciting people so that they excelled in the classroom and in the laboratory,” said George Les GeddesWodicka, head of Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. “His tireless dedication, curiosity, and willingness to explore and test new ideas not only helped shape modern medicine and the medical device industry, but also is a legacy that will continue to inspire future generations of researchers, entrepreneurs and leaders.”

Among his accomplishments during a career that spanned more than 50 years are:

  • An energy efficient miniature defibrillator – a device that jolts the heart with electricity during a heart attack – that is small enough to implant inside a person.
  • A regenerative tissue graft made from a layer of pig intestines that has been used by surgeons to treat more than 200,000 patients so far.
  • A pacemaker that automatically increases a person’s heart rate during exercise.
  • A portable electrocardiograph that patients use to monitor the electrical patterns of their own hearts.
  • A miniature cuff that fits over the pinky-sized limbs of premature infants to measure blood pressure, heart and respiratory rates, and the amount of oxygen in the blood.
  • A device that tells medical personnel whether they are properly administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The device could be crucial in saving lives because every minute of delay in resuscitation reduces the chance of survival by 10 percent.

– Emil Venere, Purdue News Service,