Home People 15 Interesting Sergei S. Bryukhonenko Facts

15 Interesting Sergei S. Bryukhonenko Facts

by Sankalan Baidya
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Before we go deep into this facts list, we will like to mention two things. First, dog lovers in this world are going to hate this (that includes us) and second, we do not really support anything like this again in today’s era or even in near or far future. Having said that, we also need to state that because of the experiments by Sergei S. Bryukhonenko, open-heart surgeries are today possible. So, let us learn 15 interesting Sergei S. Bryukhonenko facts and find out more about his gruesome experiments and his contributions to medical science.

Interesting Sergei S. Bryukhonenko Facts: 1 – 8

1. Sergei S. Bryukhonenko (Sergei Sergeyevich Bryukhonenko) was a Soviet scientist who was born on April 30, 1890.

2. Bryukhonenko died when he was 10 days shy of his 70th birthday. He died on April 20, 1960.

3. He reached the peak of his career during the Stalinist era and his research helped in the development of open-heart procedures in the then Soviet Union.

4. His greatest contribution was his invention of autojektor – a primitive heart and lung machine.

5. Sergei S. Bryukhonenko was already famous because of his very deep insights into blood transfusion but for some odd reason, he was not really satisfied with his knowledge and wanted to know whether life could be sustained by artificial methods.

6. This very quest of Sergei led him to spend countless hours in his laboratory and conduct some macabre research that involved animals, especially canines (dogs) that we consider to be man’s best friend.

7. His laboratory staff soon became accustomed to desiccated animal corpses and disembodied heads of dogs. He even went to the extent of putting perfectly healthy dogs to death by draining blood out of their bodies and then conducting his experiments. That was ghastly, inhumane and uncomfortable but what he achieved through his experiments proved to be extremely helpful to modern science.

8. The sole purpose of Bryukhonenko’s experiments were to invent a fully-functional heart-lung machine that would help to maintain a continuous supply of oxygenated blood to patients in conditions where they otherwise unable to.

Interesting Sergei S. Bryukhonenko Facts: 9 – 10

9. Sergei S. Bryukhonenko started working on his experiments in 1920 and by 1925, his autojektor was completely ready and displayed publicly.

10. The autojektor machine consisted of a reservoir for storing blood, a couple of tubes meant for extracting and injecting blood and automatic pumps. It was the most primitive form of machine but was very much capable of doing what it was intended to do.

11. Sergei and his laboratory staff took out organs from dogs, especially their hearts and lungs and used the autojektor to successfully keep them functional.

12. In other bizarre experiments, Sergei managed to keep the severed head of a dog alive using the autojektor machine. Also it may sound incredible and almost impossible, there are many eyewitnesses that go on to actually validate the fact.

13. In 1940, a film was released by the name “Experiments in the Revival of Organisms”. The movie shows two very unsettling experiments. The most bizarre scene of the movie was that of a severed dog head (looking fleshy and healthy) was attached to the machine that pumped in oxygen and blood into the head. The severed head was then exposed to several external stimuli such as light and sound. The head was in complete control and reacted accordingly. The dog head was even fed with candies which was accepted by the head and swallowed. When its snout was covered with citrus, the head actually licked it clean.

14. If the severed head wasn’t just enough, another experiment showed putting a healthy dog to death by cutting its carotid artery. The dog dies and before the cellular disintegration sets in, the collected blood is put in the machine and is pumped back into the dogs body using the two tubes of the machine. This brings the dog back to life. Later, the dog was properly operated and with proper medical attention, it was back to its normal life.

15. As expected, the movie did invite many critics and it was called to be a Soviet propaganda. The critics argued that the movie had tight shots with frequently changing scenes and the camera never moved as a result of which, scientific scrutiny was not possible and that the film would satisfy only those people who were predetermined to believe it.

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Bonus Fact:

Later scientific probing brought out some evident points. For instance, the severed head retained consciousness for no more than a few minutes as opposed to hours as mentioned by the movie’s narrator. Also, the resurrected dog inflicted serious brain damage and managed to live for only a few days after the experiment. Nonetheless, Bryukhonenko’s experiments are considered to be largely successful because it directly led to breakthrough in artificial life support and organ transplant. Thus, he was posthumously awarded Lenin Prize.

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Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

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