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Baltimore had a lifesaving role in defibrillator technology | READER COMMENTARY

An x-ray reveals how an implantable cardiac defibrillator is positioned in the body. File. (Kallista Images via Getty Images).

The ongoing coverage of the injury to Damar Hamlin has generated in me the desire to inform The Baltimore Sun’s readers about an amazing piece of Baltimore history (”Don’t blame NFL for injury to Damar Hamlin,” Jan. 17).

Hamlin was successfully resuscitated with the help of an external defibrillator to shock his heart rhythm back to normal. What Baltimoreans should appreciate is that the AICD or automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator was invented in the basement of Sinai Hospital in Baltimore by Dr. Michel Mirowski and Dr. Morton Mower (with a little help from a few others). I knew these giants of medicine well and published medical research with them in the 1970s (”Dr. Morton M. Mower, co-inventor of the automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator and former Sinai Hospital cardiologist, dies” April 30).


Prior to their accomplishment, they were maligned and scoffed at by the cardiology establishment who said it could never be done. There was a movie showing a dog that was subjected to a lethal arrhythmia. It collapsed, was shocked, got up and ran away. They were accused of trick photography and of being charlatans. They persisted, Michel, the visionary, and Morty, the scientist, figured out how to make the machine tell the difference between lethal abnormal heart rhythm and others.

They chose Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. to implant the first device in a human in 1980, at Johns Hopkins Hospital to add legitimacy and publicity. The second was implanted in a patient at Sinai by Dr. Juan Juanteguy. Since that time, with the help of many improvements, the devices have saved hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives.


Unfortunately, both Michel and Morty are gone now, but If you search their names on the internet, you will get to appreciate their amazing life stories and philanthropy.

— Warren Israel, Pikesville

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