Sewell Heart Pump

This heart pump was built by William H. Sewell (-1993) and William W. L. Glenn (1914-2003), and was intended for physiological experiments. The pump was made from an Erector© Set, glass cylinders, cannula and rubber tubing. All that remains today is the erector set.
Sewell built the pneumatically powered pump for his medical thesis at Yale University. He graduated in 1950. The object of the pump was to by-pass the right side of a dog's heart, and to look for any abnormalities the pump may have caused to the heart or the blood.
A cannula was inserted into the animal’s jugular vein and maneuvered into the right auricle and finally into the vena cava. Compressed air was used to pump blood through the dog's system. The first experiment took place in June 1949. The artificial heart worked and the dog made a complete recovery.
The total cost of the pump came to $24.80. The most expensive part at $9.00 was the erector set and motor.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1950
associated dates
1959 01 06 / 1959 01 06
place made
United States: Connecticut, New Haven
Physical Description
steel (overall material)
glass (overall material)
rubber (overall material)
silicone (overall material)
overall: 3 3/4 in x 12 in x 14 1/4 in; 9.525 cm x 30.48 cm x 36.195 cm
overall: 9.5 cm x 24 cm x 35 cm; 3 3/4 in x 9 7/16 in x 13 25/32 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Mrs. William H. Sewell
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Health & Medicine
Artificial Hearts
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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