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Inventor of cardiac pacemaker dies

Wed., Sept. 28, 2011, midnight

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Wilson Greatbatch, whose invention of the implantable cardiac pacemaker has kept millions of hearts beating in rhythm, died Tuesday. He was 92.

Greatbatch died at an assisted living center in suburban Buffalo, where he had lived in recent years. The cause of death was not disclosed.

In a lifetime of inventing, Greatbatch received more than 150 national and international patents, including one for the pacemaker, which was first implanted in humans in 1960. Today, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide receive them every year.

In 1983, the National Society of Professional Engineers chose the pacemaker as one of the 10 greatest engineering contributions to society during the past 50 years. The device was first successfully implanted in a 77-year-old man at Buffalo’s Veteran’s Affairs Hospital. The patient lived for 18 months.

In his later years, Greatbatch challenged the next generation of inventors to develop nuclear fusion with a type of helium found on the moon to replace fossil fuels, which he said will be exhausted by 2050.


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