The man who created the first wearable external peacemaker and the co-founder of one of the leading medical device companies in the world dies at 94. Earl Bakken has been a celebrated hero by many people for many years because of his great creations and contribution in saving the lives of many people suffering from heart-related illnesses. He also commercialized the very first implantable pacemaker in 1960.
Alongside his brother-in-law Palmer Hermundslie, Earl Bakken founded the Medtronic in 1949, a company that has over the years transformed from a struggling business that was being run out of the Hermundlie family’s Minneapolis garage into the multinational medical technology powerhouse it is today.
While eulogizing the deceased, Medtronic reminisced about the great contributions Earl made especially in the field of medical technology. The company’s chairman and CEO Omar Ishrak said that Earl’s work cannot be overstated. His spirit will always live on the people he has left behind, who will work hard to fulfill the mission he wrote about 60 years ago including restoration of health, alleviation of pain and extension of life.
Earl has been a leader in Medtronic for 40 years. He had his own pacemaker fitted in 2001 and a replacement made in 2009. His successor as chief executive officer in the company professor Bill George said that even after exiting office, Earl always made sure that the company’s leaders were strictly following the original values of Medtronic, which have been clearly laid out in its mission statement.
Bakken and Hermundslie wanted to create a company that would be repairing and modifying hospital equipment. They started by fixing TVs and selling other company’s medical devices but its most important work was to custom-make medical devices. In 1958, Dr. C. Walton Lillehei a University of Minnesota heart surgeon asked Earl to make a battery-powered pacemaker to keep babies that had irregular heartbeats alive. The device was presented to the animal lab for testing and was fixed to a pediatric patient the next day. From that successful start, the company never looked back and now has over 86,000 employees worldwide.
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