Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dr. Thomas Ferguson; He Brought One of the First Heart-Lung Machines to St. Louis

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dr. Thomas Ferguson; He Brought One of the First Heart-Lung Machines to St. Louis

Article excerpt

Tom Ferguson knew something was wrong. And as a pioneer in cardiac surgery, he knew just what it was: He was about to have a heart attack.

He got himself to Barnes Hospital, chose the best surgeon he could find and underwent quadruple bypass surgery.

That was 28 years ago. He recovered and resumed teaching and his medical practice, his family recalled this week shortly after his heart finally failed.

Dr. Thomas Bruce Ferguson died Sunday (May 26, 2013) at Barnes- Jewish Hospital, less than a week after he had flown to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York for a heart-valve replacement operation, his family said. He was 90 and lived in Ladue.

In 1957, Dr. Ferguson and a team from Washington University School of Medicine flew to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and brought back one of the first heart-lung machines. It took a year to learn how to use it, and in 1958 he performed his first surgery with it.

He became part of one of the early open-heart surgery programs in the country. The first such operation here, involving a mechanical heart and lung and a 4-year-old boy, was performed in 1956 at St. Louis University Hospital.

Dr. Ferguson's interest in medicine was sparked by his maternal grandfather, Dr. Enos Loomis, a frontier doctor among the Choctaw Indians of the Oklahoma territory at the turn of the century. His other grandfather was the first territorial governor of Oklahoma. His father was a successful newspaper publisher, and his mother was a nationally syndicated columnist devoted to women's rights.

Dr. Ferguson graduated from Duke University and its medical school before training in surgery at Duke, Barnes and Washington University. He came to St. Louis in 1951 to train in a relatively new specialty, thoracic surgery, under Dr. Evarts Graham, the famed chief of surgery at Washington University.

After Dr. Ferguson and others brought the heart-lung machine to St. …

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