First Pacemaker Cardiac Team brings Glory to Akwa Ibom
By Abraham Ariyo, M.D.
We Congratulate the Cardiac Team for performing Akwa-Ibom’s first complete cardiac pacemaker on February 15th, 2023. The cardiac team successfully performed this procedure at Awa General Hospital. Professor Eyo Ekpe of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, and Dr. Ezekiel Ogunleye of Lagos University Teaching Hospital, led the team.
In 1889, the English physiologist, John Alexander MacWilliam (1857-1937), postulated that stimulation of the heart, even when it stops (asystole), can revive and return the patient to life. In 1926, Mark Cowley Lidwill (1878-1969), an England-born Australian Cardiologist, found out that he could stimulate or pace the heart with electricity. As the inventor of the first external pacemaker, he used his device to resuscitate a stillborn. Between 1930-1932, Albert Salisbury Hyman (1893 – 1972), a Harvard-trained New York Cardiologist, worked closely with his brother Charles to develop an electrical device that he called an artificial pacemaker, which we commonly use to date.
On October 8th, 1958, Arne Larsson received the world’s first fully functioning internal pacemaker in Sweden by open-chest surgery (thoracotomy). The first failed within 3 hours, and the second failed and was replaced with a third pacemaker two days later. Despite this initial rocky start, he received 26 pacemakers in 43 years. He outlived the inventor and the cardiologist, dying of skin cancer at age 86. While this internal implantable became a success story, researchers focused on inserting this pacemaker through the vein (transvenous) without open chest surgery.
In 1962, Victor Parsonnet of New Jersey performed the first permanent transvenous pacemaker in the United States, while Lagergren performed it in Sweden, and Jean-Jacques Welti did the same in France. Using the arm vein to introduce the pacemaker leads into the heart chambers under fluoroscopic visualization, and securing the battery under the chest wall without opening the chest is the standard of care to date.
In 1976, Dr. Ayodele Falase, a Cardiologist in the Department of Medicine, University College Hospital in Ibadan, Nigeria, performed the first complete transvenous cardiac pacemaker in Nigeria. Again, we congratulate the Akwa-Ibom team on this important medical progress.