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The story of how the defibrillator, a game changer in the world of medicine, was born in Cleveland

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Posted at 4:16 PM, Dec 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-13 16:29:04-05

Seventy years ago Wednesday, a total game changer in the world of medicine was born - right here in Cleveland.

A 14-year-old Stark County boy went into cardiac arrest at University Hospitals. By all accounts, Richard Heyard was dead on the operating table.

But 45 minutes later, Dr. Claude Beck got the boy's heart beating again with two jolts from a primitive defibrillator, made with a pair of wooden-handled tablespoons.

It was the first time in the world a patient had been successfully resuscitated, and gave way to a new era of medicine.

"They opened it up, shocked the heart and I am told this is the first successful case in medical history," Heyard recalled in an interview from the 1950's.

Today, we see AED devices in almost every public place.

"You can't overstate how important this was," noted Dr. Michael De Georgia of University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in a statement. "That is what started this whole revolution of advanced cardiac life support that we essentially take for granted today."