Cardiac Pacemaker

Canadian stamp pacemaker cardiac

Date of issue: August 17, 2011
Printer: Lowe-Martin
Series: Canadian Innovations
Design: q30 design inc

Cardiac Pacemaker

John Hopps was born in Winnipeg in 1919. After graduating in electrical engineering from the University of Manitoba in 1941, he was employed by the National Research Council in Ottawa. In 1949, he went to the Banting Institute in Toronto to work with cardiac surgeon Wilfred Bigelow. He wanted to use hypothermia to slow the heart sufficiently to enable open-heart surgery but needed a technique to induce cardiac contraction during the cooling. Hopps found that this could be done by repetitive electrical stimulation and he returned to the National Research Council to design and build the first cardiac pacemaker.

Hopps’ machine was the size of a small table radio and used vacuum tubes to generate pulses that were transmitted by transvenous catheter electrodes. This prototype led the way to the much smaller implantable pacemakers that are used today. In addition to this and other biomedical engineering work, Hopps founded the Canadian Medical and Biological Engineering Society (1965) and became an Officer of the Order of Canada (1986).

The Stamp

The stamp shows a cardiac pacemaker as seen in a photograph from the National Research Council of Canada.

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