Claude Schaeffer Beck

Born 1894
Died 1971

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American surgeon, born 1894, Shamoka, Pennsylvania; died 1971.

Biography of Claude Schaeffer Beck

Claude Schaeffer Beck graduated MD from Johns Hopkins in 1921. Following a period as Cabot Fellow at Harvard and associate surgeon at the Peter Bent Brigham, Beck in 1924 went to Cleveland. For several years he conducted experiments on animals. In 1935 he implanted pectoral muscle into the pericardium and that same year attached a pedicled omental graft to the surface of the heart (cardioomentopexy), thus providing collateral circulation to that organ. The feat was duplicated by Laurence O'Shaughnessy (1900-1940) in the following year. After an initial wave of enthusiasm, however, the technique was abandoned.

Although predominantly a thoracic surgeon, he made numerous contributions to vascular surgery and to neurosurgery, in particular the use of vitallium plates to close defects of the skull. He pioneered emergency surgery to re-start hearts (open cardiac massage) on patients «too good to die» and lectured widely to lay audiences on appropriate first aid techniques. He died of a stroke.

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