Great Ukrainian innovators: heart surgeon and inventor Mykola Amosov

Author : Oleh Shama

Source : 112 Ukraine

Ukrainian surgeon Mykola Amosov was a pioneer in conducting complex heart operations. He himself has created numerous medical devices
18:48, 18 July 2016

Read the original text at NV.UA.

The first in the Soviet Union artificial heart valves have been created in Kyiv by Doctor Mykola Amosov; he made them of pieces of imported nylon shirts. He has also created the first prosthetic valve cover, which protected from blood clots. And he also came close to the procedure of heart transplantation.

Amosov invented many devices as besides the medical education, he had technical education. When Amosov was young, he had faced a choice: to build aircrafts or treat people.

Mykola Amosov was born in Cherepovets (Russia), but most of his life he had spent in Ukraine. The cybernetics methods in medicine were first proposed by Amosov to formulate the principles of longevity.

Escape from the army

The first medical knowledge Amosov received as a child from his mother and aunt, who were midwives in Cherepovets.

In 1934, 21-year-old Amosov entered the Archangelsk Correspondence Industrial Institute and the local medical university (surgical department).

Mykola Amosov and his three colleagues patented "heart-lung" apparatus in 1960

He graduated from the technical university after introducing a draft of the vapor aircraft. Later, the surgeon admitted that he entered the medical institute because he did not want to go to the army. Yes, Amosov managed to escape the army, but the war began, and he leaded the field hospital. During the war, Amosov has performed 40 thousand surgical procedures, more than 20 operations per day.

Amosov has actually founded the thoracic (chest) medicine. Before it, only a few Soviet has been conducting lung surgery by raising the ribs.

Second homeland

Amosov moved to Kyiv, and in 1953 he headed the Department of the Kyiv Medical Institute. The former military doctor was interested in heart surgery, which was a kind of a trend in the world of medicine.

While being in Mexico, Amosov saw a lung machine needed to maintain the pressure during heart surgery. After coming home, he constructed his own lung machine, and it was even much better. And later created a "heart-lung" machine that supported the body in a good shape during the surgical operations.

According to Mykola Amosov, one out of ten heart operations were failed, and it made him stop his medical activities for some time

In 1968, Amosov came very close to heart transplants. But his first experience was not successful, and the scientist refused to carry out such operations.

Amosov was not only a surgeon and inventor, but also he was the first Ukrainian anesthesiologist.

Artificial Intelligence

Amosov was interested in cybernetics, the new science of that time.

In 1962, in Kyiv, Viktor Glushkov created the first computer in the Soviet Union. It was a very important invention for the medicine. If you put the clear symptoms, it will give you the most optimal treatment regime. But there was only one computer, and considerable funding was needed for further developments. The government did not understand the importance of new science, and it hindered the development of e-diagnostics. But scientists from Glushkov Institute, where Amosov headed a medical laboratory, began their work on development of artificial intelligence.

The task was to create a model of a human with all the physiological and psychological parameters. The experts were convinced that this project would take up to five years. But it was closed just after its beginning.

Related: Meet the legend: Ukrainian aircraft designer Igor Sikorsky


When Amosov’s cardiac surgery were not successful, he stopped his operations and worked in the cybernetics laboratories. Especially after the death of people during the operations.

Mykola Amosov and his daughter Catherine, early 1970s. She followed the father's footsteps and became a cardiologist.

When Amosov felt the burden of human misery, he started writing books. In 1964, he published his novel “Thoughts and the Heart,” soon translated into 30 languages.

The doctor was very strict and demanding. In the early 1960s, he was first who started using altitude chambers to prepare patients for surgery. His colleagues told that one of the first altitude chambers exploded, killing two nurses. Examination showed that the explosion occurred through the fault of the engineers who designed the chamber. But the surgeon felt his own guilt for the tragedy. It took place just before the Academy of Sciences chairperson election, in which Amosov had every chance to win. But he withdrew his candidacy because he thought himself responsible for the accident.

In 1992, Amosov left his surgeons practice; he said: "I am fed up with this struggle for life, the frustrated families and their kids on a surgical table. I can no longer watch it."

Then he investigated the issues of longevity and the ability to rejuvenate the body. The basis of success in dealing with old age Amosov saw in optimum physical activities. Thanks to him, jogging and healthy lifestyle became popular in the USSR. At 85 years old, he has been daily working on his abs and 85 doing exercises with 10-pound dumbbells.

Until his last days, the academician had a diary, which was published after his death. "Around 20 surgical and technical innovations. Not bad," Amosov summed up his own life. "Where to go? Only to the West, to the North American standards. The US attracts the minds of the world. They also elect smart presidents. We should not follow Russia. The future of Russia is vague."

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