Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Jewish Hall of Fame: Paul Zoll

This week we honor the renowned doctor and early pioneer who helped develop the pacemaker

By: Caitlin Marceau

Published: July 2nd, 2014 in Health » World

Jewish Hall of Fame: Paul Zoll

Since the dawn of time, Jewish people have contributed greatly to various fields, from sports to entertainment to politics to porn. With our Breakthrough Jew feature, we recognize those who are up and comers in these various industries, identifying those great innovators and leaders in the contemporary world who are making a mark on society that will last a lifetime.

With the Jewish Hall of Fame, we recognize the remarkable advancements members of our community have made on today’s society. These are people who have truly changed the world, and have earned the respect and praise of the members of today’s younger generation.

ShalomLife’s Jewish Hall of Fame is our ongoing tribute to the greatest Jews who have ever lived; be sure to catch us weekly with our latest inductees, and tweet us @ShalomLife wih your suggestions.

Check out last week’s inductee into the Hall of Fame here.

Hall of Fame Member: Paul Zoll

Born: July 15th, 1911, in Boston, Massachusetts

Died: January 5th, 1999 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

Paul Maurice Zoll was born on July 15th, 1911, in Boston, Massachusetts to a Jewish family. He grew up in Boston and at an early age knew he wanted to be a doctor. He attended Harvard Medical School and practiced at the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, specializing in cardiology. Surgeries concerning the heart at that time were rare and dangerous, but Zoll believed that there was a way to save the lives of those living with heart failure.

During the second World War, Zoll was stationed in Great Britain as an army surgeon where he witnessed many open heart surgeries performed successfully by doctor Dwight Harken. These surgeries aimed to remove bullets and shrapnel from war victims, and had not been previously performed with high success rates. However Harken was more than successful in his attempts and after the war, he and Zoll published writings detailing and demonstrating the procedures.

In 1950, Zoll attended a conference with the American College of Surgeons, in Boston, and thanks to one of the presentations he became inspired to discover a way to stimulate the heart during flatline, without having to open the chest. Previously, stimulating the heart during asystole had been done by opening the chest cavity and pumping the heart manually.

But Zoll believed there was a way to bring the heart back to life after death without having to open the patients up. In 1952, he successfully brought two patients back to life at the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. He further developed the design in 1957, increasing the voltage, and paving the way for the modern emergency defibrillator.

Zoll was also an advocate of patient monitoring, especially those who had suffered a heart attack or other cardiac problems, and began to develop the pacemaker. Although the original designs were bulky, impractical for mobility purposes, and uncomfortable for patients, this design would be what would later become today’s pacemaker.

Despite his trailblazing, Zoll wouldn’t receive much success during his lifetime. It was only in 1973 that his efforts would be acknowledged. He was awarded the Lasker Award and declared a Pioneer in Cardiac Pacing by the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology. In 1980, Zoll co-founded ZOLL Medical which continues to produce pacemakers and other cardiology equipment.

Although Zoll passed away on January 5th, 1999, in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, his inventions remain. Thanks to his hard work and innovation, countless lives have been saved who, without Zoll, may not have. It’s for this reason that Paul Zoll is inducted into this week’s Jewish Hall of Fame.

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