C. Walton Lillehei
Clarence Walton Lillehei was a pioneering Minnesota surgeon who made multiple contributions to the field of medicine. In 1952, Lillehei, then a Department of Surgery professor at the University of Minnesota, performed the first successful open heart surgery. His surgical technique spread across the country. In 1958, he worked with Medtronic to develop the world’s first portable pacemaker. Three years later, he designed and implanted several innovative designs of artificial heart valve. By the time of his death in 1999, C. Walton Lillehei had revolutionized cardiology and established Minnesota as a national center for medical device technology.