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Timeline of Innovation

Leaders in Medicine

Our close partnership with the University of Minnesota puts us at the forefront of world-class research and innovative patient treatments. The first open heart surgery, first human bone marrow transplant and the development of the first successful heart-lung machine all happened within our walls. 

Medical milestones include the following:


  • 1952: First successful open heart surgery using hypothermia – performed on a 5-year-old girl
  • 1954: Repair of an artero-ventricular canal
  • 1954: Successful repair of aventricular-septal defect using cross circulation
  • 1954: Successful repair of tetralogy of Fallot in a child
  • 1957: Use of electrodes attached directly to the heart – the precursor for the pacemaker
  • 1958: Use of a portable pacemaker in a child with heart block


  • 1960: World’s first successful human bone-marrow transplant using a human leukocyte antigen matched sibling donor 
  • 1960: First use of an implantable pacemaker
  • 1968: World’s first successful human bone marrow transplant using an HLA matched sibling donor – in an infant with an immune deficiency syndrome. 


  • 1970: World’s first successful strategies for hemodialysis in newborns 
  • 1974: Establishment of the Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) program at the University of Minnesota
  • 1975: First successful BMT transplant in a patient with lymphoma 


  • 1980s: Development of autologous bone marrow transplantation—using the patient’s own marrow—for chronic myelogenous leukemia 
  • 1980: Minnesota’s first infant heart transplant 
  • 1982: First transplant for an inherited metabolic disease
  • 1985: Initiation of unrelated donor BMT 
  • 1986: Minnesota’s first infant heart transplant – performed on a 6-month-old 
  • 1988: World’s first successful strategies for kidney transplantation in infants and children 
  • 1988: Invention of the world’s first chest-clearing vest for children and adolescents with cystic fibrosis


  • 1990: Minnesota’s first pediatric living-donor liver transplant 
  • 1990: Minnesota’s first pediatric cochlear-ear implant surgery 
  • 1991: First cord blood transplant using a related donor for a child with leukemia
  • 1994: First unrelated umbilical cord blood transplant
  • 1999: First double umbilical cord blood transplant (known around the world as the Minneapolis Regimen, this treatment option has dramatically reduced cancer recurrence in patients and nearly tripled survival rates)
  • 1999: The American Red Cross, University of Minnesota Medical Center and University of Minnesota team up to open the Midwest's first public cord blood bank


  • 2000: First umbilical cord blood transplant in a Fanconi anemia patient using pre-implantation genetic testing, ensuring a perfect tissue match
  • 2002 Bilateral (both sides) cochlear implant surgery on the world’s youngest patient – a 6-month-old
  • 2002: World's first mesenchymal stem cell/cord blood transplant in a pediatric patient with acute myeloid leukemia 
  • 2003: Report of the transmission of lung cancer from mother to her unborn child, showing that cancer cells can cross the placenta and lead to the same cancer in the child. 
  • 2004: Research linking higher risk for leukemia and brain tumors in very young children (under 5 years of age) to BRCA2 gene mutations, which had previously been identified as markers for increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer 
  • 2005: Minnesota’s first pediatric robotically-assisted procedure using the da Vinci® Surgical System
  • 2007: First Hybrid Norwood surgery in the upper Midwest—eliminating cardiopulmonary bypass—in Minnesota’s first hybrid lab dedicated to children
  • 2008: Minnesota’s first implant of the Berlin Heart ® EXCOR Pediatric Ventricular-Assist Device, which serves as a bridge to transplantation for children awaiting a donor heart
  • 2009: Results showing that patient outcomes for myeloablative double umbilical cord blood transplantation are equal to those of related or unrelated donor transplantation 


  • 2010: First single-location multidisciplinary clinic in the country for patients with CAH and DSD
  • 2010: First inpatient pediatric hospitalist program of its kind in the Twin Cities
  • 2010: First in-human trial of marrow stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells to repair the mucocutaneous disease, Epidermolysis Bullosa.
  • 2011: Use of natural killer cells derived from cord blood to treat patients with acute myelogenous leukemia, a common childhood cancer that is not responsive to standard treatment. 
  • 2013: World’s first BMT with the intention to cure a child who has both leukemia and HIV