William Thornton Mustard was a surgeon in Canada during the twentieth century who developed surgical techniques to treat children who had congenital heart defects. Mustard has two surgeries named after him, both of which he helped to develop. The first of these surgeries replaces damaged or paralyzed muscles in individuals who have polio, a virus that can cause paralysis. The other technique corrects a condition called the transposition of the great arteries (TGA) that is noticed at birth. Surgeons worldwide adopted that technique, leading to increased survival rates in infants afflicted with the condition. Mustard also published over 100 articles on congenital heart defects, surgical techniques, and the preparation of an artificial heart lung machine. Mustard helped perform the first blood transfusion of a newborn whose red blood cells (RBCs) had degraded, a condition called hemolytic anemia. Throughout his career, Mustard developed surgical techniques that increased the survival rates of infants and children with congenital and developmental disorders.

The Mustard Operation is a surgical technique to correct a heart condition called the transposition of the great arteries (TGA). TGA is a birth defect in which the placement of the two arteries, the pulmonary artery, which supplies deoxygenated blood to the lungs, and the aorta, which takes oxygenated blood to the body are switched. William Thornton Mustard developed the operation later named for him and in 1963 operated on an infant with TGA, and ameliorated the condition, at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. Afterwards, the Mustard Operation became the primary form of corrective surgery for TGA, until the arterial switch operation largely replaced the Mustard Operation by the late 1990s. The Mustard Operation enabled surgeons to correct TGA in infants born with the life-threatening anomaly, increasing their life spans and quality of life.

Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis demonstrated that the use of disinfectants could reduce the occurrence of puerperal fever in patients in nineteenth century Austria. Puerperal fever is a bacterial infection that can occur in the uterine tract of women after giving birth or undergoing an abortion. Semmelweis determined that puerperal fever is contagious and argued that the unhygienic practices of physicians, like examining patients after performing autopsies, caused the spread of puerperal fever. He showed that if physicians washed their hands with a chloride solution before they attended patients, then they prevented those patients from developing puerperal fever. Despite being widely criticized during his lifetime, Semmelweis's research on the contagiousness of puerperal fever set a precedent for many scientists, and contributed to preventing the spread of puerperal fever.

Transposition of the great arteries or TGA is a potentially fatal congenital heart malformation where the pulmonary artery and the aorta are switched. The switch means that the aorta, which normally carries oxygenated blood, carries deoxygenated blood. There are two types of the malformation, d-TGA where no oxygen reaches the body and l-TGA where some oxygenated blood circulates. In the US, the Centers for Disease Control estimate that about 1,901 infants are born each year with TGA, or about one for every 2,000 births. Throughout history, physicians classified TGA as a condition that causes blue babies and hypothesized it was a fatal condition. With the development of corrective surgeries, studies on the causes of TGA, and improved prenatal diagnosis have allowed for the survival rate for those with TGA to approach almost one hundred percent.

Adib Jatene in Brazil was the first surgeon to successfully perform the arterial switch operation in 1975. The operation corrected a heart condition in infants called transposition of the great arteries (TGA). Left untreated, infants with TGA die, as their blood cannot supply oxygen to their bodies. Jatene’s operation became widely used to correct the condition. Aside from medical research, Jatene worked for years in politics and education, serving as Brazil’s minister of health and teaching thoracic surgery at the University of São Paulo.

The arterial switch operation, also called the Jatene procedure, is an operation in which surgeons redirect the flow of blood through abnormal hearts. In 1975, Adib Jatene conducted the first successful arterial switch operation on a human infant. The arterial switch operation corrects a condition called transposition of the great arteries, abbreviated TGA, also called transposition of the great vessels, abbreviated TGV. TGA occurs when the pulmonary artery, which supplies deoxygenated blood to the lungs, and the aorta, which takes oxygenated blood to the body, are switched, or transposed. The switch between the aorta and pulmonary artery results in dangerously low levels of oxygen, a condition called cyanosis, in newborn infants, which causes them to die if a surgeon does not correct it.

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