Wilson Greatbatch

The other night I transferred a patient from Suburban Children’s to Big City Trauma Center. At 15 years old he was having trouble with his implanted pacemaker. Without it, he would have been dead years ago. It was an interesting case, made more so by events in my private life.

Wilson Greatbatch, inventor of the pacemaker, dies at age 92.


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If you work in EMS or any type of emergency medicine, you’ve seen the work of Wilson Greatbatch. Slightly more than 50 years ago he invented the implantable cardiac pacemaker and changed the lives of thousands of people forever. The Smithsonian has a good biography of him here.

Equally important here at Mosquito Hill, Wilson was Mrs. Mack505’s grandfather. She has wonderful memories of playing with her cousins in his ‘shop’ as a child. Other children’s grandfathers might have a workbench or a table saw; Grandpa Greatbatch had oscilloscopes and bubbling beakers.

I first met him almost 18 years ago now. He was brilliant in an interesting way; he was always seeing ways to improve the world around him. Most never worked, but when they did, look out! He has been quoted elsewhere as saying, “Nine out of ten things I dream up never work, but the tenth will pay for the other nine.”.

He was also a genuinely nice guy.

I leave you with Grandpa Greatbatch’s own words, recorded for posterity 15 years ago.

Godspeed, Grandpa Greatbatch. Say “Hi!” to Grandma and Uncle Peter for us.

I highly recommend following the links. It’s a fascinating story.