Home Health William P. Murphy Jr., Innovator of Life-Saving Medical Instruments, Dies at 100

William P. Murphy Jr., Innovator of Life-Saving Medical Instruments, Dies at 100

William P. Murphy Jr., Innovator of Life-Saving Medical Instruments, Dies at 100


Dr. William P. Murphy Jr., a biomedical engineer who was an inventor of the vinyl blood bag that changed breakable bottles within the Korean Struggle and made transfusions protected and dependable on battlefields, in hospitals and at scenes of pure disasters and accidents, died on Thursday at his residence in Coral Gables, Fla. He was 100.

His demise was confirmed on Monday by Mike Tomás, the president and chief government of U.S. Stem Cell, a Florida firm for which Dr. Murphy had lengthy served as chairman. He turned chairman emeritus final 12 months.

Dr. Murphy, the son of a Nobel Prize-winning Boston doctor, was additionally broadly credited with early advances within the growth of pacemakers to stabilize erratic coronary heart rhythms, of synthetic kidneys to cleanse the blood of impurities, and of many sterile units, together with trays, scalpel blades, syringes, catheters and different surgical and patient-care objects which can be used as soon as and thrown away.

However Dr. Murphy was maybe greatest recognized for his work on the fashionable blood bag: the sealed, versatile, sturdy and cheap container, manufactured from polyvinyl chloride, that did away with fragile glass bottles and adjusted virtually every little thing in regards to the storage, portability and ease of delivering and transfusing blood provides worldwide.

Developed with a colleague, Dr. Carl W. Walter, in 1949-50, the baggage are gentle, wrinkle-resistant and tear proof. They’re simple to deal with, protect crimson blood cells and proteins, and be certain that the blood is just not uncovered to the air for at the very least six weeks. Blood banks, hospitals and different medical storage services depend upon their longevity. Drones drop them safely into distant areas.

In 1952, Dr. Murphy joined the US Public Well being Service as a guide and, on the behest of the Military, went to Korea through the conflict there to show, with groups of medics, the usage of the blood baggage in transfusing wounded troopers at assist stations close to the entrance strains.

“It was the primary main check of the baggage below battlefield circumstances, and it was an unqualified success,” Dr. Murphy mentioned in a phone interview from his residence for this obituary in 2019. In time, he famous, the baggage turned a mainstay of the blood-collection and storage networks of the American Pink Cross and related organizations overseas.

(For years, researchers have mentioned an ingredient in polyvinyl chlorides, diethylhexyl phthalate, or DEHP — utilized in making constructing supplies, clothes and plenty of well being care merchandise — poses a most cancers threat to people. Since 2008, Congress has banned DEHP in youngsters’s merchandise within the U.S.; the European Union has required labels; and different chemical compounds have changed DEHP in blood baggage.)

In Korea, Dr. Murphy recalled, he noticed Military medics reusing needles to transfuse sufferers, and medical devices had been typically inadequately sterilized. Alarmed on the risks of an infection, he designed a collection of comparatively cheap medical trays outfitted with medication and sterilized surgical instruments that may very well be discarded after a single use, drastically lowering the dangers of cross-contaminating sufferers.

In 1957, he based the Medical Improvement Company, a Miami firm that two years later turned Cordis Company, a developer and maker of units for diagnosing and treating coronary heart and vascular ailments. With Dr. Murphy as chief engineer, president, chief government and chairman, Cordis produced what he known as the primary synchronous cardiac pacemaker.

As the usage of implanted pacemakers turned extra frequent within the Sixties and ’70s, Dr. Murphy mentioned, he noticed that the units may be improved upon to reply not solely to irregular coronary heart rhythms — often an abnormally sluggish beat — but in addition to indicators of bleeding, tissue harm, blood-clot formation or issues with the pacemaker’s electrode leads into the center muscle.

These issues led him and his crew to develop a brand new technology of pacemakers that may very well be programmed externally. Out of this effort got here the primary “twin demand” pacemaker of the Eighties, with probes into two of the center’s chambers for a fuller image of the organ’s exercise and creeping flaws.

The superior Cordis pacemaker contained a tiny laptop that would detect coronary heart issues and, in impact, have two-way digital conversations with a heart specialist. The heart specialist might, in flip, devise noninvasive options and program the pc to hold them out.

As well as, Dr. Murphy mentioned, his crew devised higher methods to just about “see” contained in the vascular system. His motorized-pressure machine injected, with precision, a small dose of liquid, containing iodine for coloration, into a particular vessel. There, the liquid confirmed up on an X-ray picture, known as an angiogram, offering a window into nooks and crannies the place blockages may be lurking.

To take away blockages, Dr. Murphy and a colleague, Robert Stevens, devised sterile vascular catheters, or probes, that allowed entry to obstructions in vessels. (In the present day’s angiographic injectors have a space-age robotic look, with tiny cameras and lights within the probes and a tv display screen exterior to information the physician’s approach by means of the tunnels.)

Underneath Dr. Murphy, Cordis additionally ventured into synthetic kidneys, which cleanse the blood of waste merchandise that accumulate usually within the physique. Important to sustaining life, the cleaning happens when blood flows on one facet of a membrane whereas a shower of chemical compounds flows on the opposite facet. Impurities within the blood go by means of tiny pores within the membrane into the bathtub, and are carried away.

Dr. Willem J. Kolff, a Dutch doctor, made the primary synthetic kidney throughout World Struggle II. It was a Rube Goldberg contraption: sausage casings wrapped round a wooden drum rotating in a salt resolution. Dr. Murphy’s machine used densely packed hole fibers of artificial resins as filters. Regardless of its inefficiencies, it was broadly utilized in wearable or implanted synthetic kidneys.

Later developments in synthetic kidneys and dialysis have given 1000’s of sufferers with failing kidneys entry to remedy and extended lives. However the units nonetheless don’t measure as much as the environment friendly human kidney; bioengineered kidneys are nonetheless a hope of the longer term.

Dr. Murphy retired from Cordis in 1985 to pursue different business medical pursuits. By then, he held 17 patents, had written some 30 articles for skilled journals and had acquired the Distinguished Service Award of the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology. He acquired the Lemelson-MIT Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003 and was inducted into the Nationwide Inventors Corridor of Fame in 2008.

William Parry Murphy Jr. was born on Nov. 11, 1923, in Boston. His father, a hematologist, shared the 1934 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medication for a research that confirmed {that a} weight loss program of uncooked liver might ameliorate the results of pernicious anemia. His mom, Harriett (Adams) Murphy, was the primary girl to change into a licensed dentist in Massachusetts.

William Jr. and his older sister, Priscilla, grew up in Brookline, the Boston suburb. As a youngster Priscilla turned the youngest certified feminine pilot within the nation however died shortly afterward within the crash of a small aircraft in a snowstorm close to Syracuse, N.Y., on a nighttime medical-mercy flight from Boston.

Fascinated as a boy with mechanics, William devised a gasoline-powered snow blower, whose design he bought to an organization.

After graduating from Milton Academy in Massachusetts, he studied pre-medicine at Harvard, the place his father taught, and graduated in 1946. He earned his medical diploma from the College of Illinois at Chicago in 1947. Whereas finding out mechanical engineering for a 12 months on the Massachusetts Institute of Know-how, he developed a movie projector to show enlarged X-ray photographs to medical audiences.

Dr. Murphy interned at St. Francis Hospital in Honolulu, then practiced medication briefly at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (now Brigham and Girls’s Hospital) in Boston earlier than taking on his profession in biomedical engineering.

In 1943, he married Barbara Eastham, an American linguist who had been born in China. They divorced within the early Nineteen Seventies. In 1973, Dr. Murphy married Beverly Patterson. She survives him, together with three daughters from his first marriage, Wendy Sorakowski and Christine and Kathleen Murphy; two grandchildren; and one great-grandson.

After retiring from Cordis, Dr. Murphy and a colleague, John Sterner, in 1986 purchased Hyperion Inc., which designed, manufactured and marketed medical laboratory and diagnostic units. In 2003, he joined the board of Bioheart, which developed stem cell therapies. He turned chairman of Bioheart in 2010 and later chairman of U.S. Stem Cell, a successor firm.

In 2019, a federal courtroom empowered the Meals and Drug Administration to cease U.S. Stem Cell from injecting sufferers with an extract made out of their very own stomach fats. The motion got here after three sufferers suffered extreme, everlasting eye harm ensuing from fats extracts injected into their eyes to deal with macular degeneration. The corporate had maintained that the extract contained stem cells with therapeutic and regenerative powers, however medical consultants disputed that declare.

Dr. Murphy had by then change into enthusiastic in regards to the promise of stem cell analysis. In 2014, he spoke to a Miami convention in regards to the quickly rising and controversial subject of utilizing stem cells derived from bone marrow and umbilical twine blood to deal with neurodegenerative circumstances, diabetes and coronary heart illness. “That’s an entire new world of regenerative remedy that’s going to be important to our future,” he mentioned.

Alex Traub contributed reporting.



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