Collage Created by Ed Supovitz
Michel Mirowski, M.D.

American Jewish Inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame

Michel Mirowski, M.D.: Inducted
into the National Inventors
Hall of Fame-2002

by Seymour “Sy” Brody

Michel Mirowski was an American Jewish inductee into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, 2002, for co-inventing wih Morton Mower, M.D., a method and apparatus for monitoring heart activity, detecting abnormalities and cardioverting a malfunctioning heart. The Patent number is 4,202,340.

He was born on October 14, 1924, in Warsaw, Poland, When the German Nazi troops overran Poland, in 1939, his father changed his name from Mordechai Frydman to Mieczyslaw Mirowski, hoping he would not be detected as a Jew. Mirowski escaped to the Ukraine and remained there for five years. In 1944, he returned to Poland as an officer in the Polish Army.

Warsaw had been demolished by the Nazis and his relatives were sent to concentration camps. Mirowski visited his family’s house and this was also destroyed. He entered the University of Gdansk as a medical student and after a year he left and emigrated to Palestine. There were no medical schools there so he returned to Europe and attended a medical school in Lyon, France.

Mirowski graduated in 1954, and returned to Israel and took a position as the first assistant to Dr. Harry Heller, chief of medicine, at the Tel Hashomer Hospital. He decided to become a cardiologist and he studied at the Cardiological Institute in Mexico City, Mexico.

When he returned to Israel in 1966, he was the only cardiologist at the Asaf Harofeh Hospital, about fifteen miles from Tel Aviv. His mentor, Harry Heller died of an irregular heart rhythm. He wondered what could have been done to prevent his death, and also others, with irregular heart rhythms. He decided to emigrate to the United States with his wife, Anna, and his three daughters, where there was some technical knowledge about the possible use of defibrillators to regulate irregular heart rhythms.

He took a position at the Sinai Hospital, in Baltimore, Maryland, which was an affiliate of the John Hopkins School of Medicine. He became the director of the coronary unit and he was able to spend about half of his time working on his defibrillator.

Mirowski, Mower and the research staff worked for many years minimizing and improving their defibrillator so that it could be implanted into a patient. On February 1, 1980, they installed it in a patient in the operating room of John Hopkins Hospital. Since then, millions of heart patients have had the defibrillator implanted and they enjoyed a longer life. Mirowski, Bower and the staff continued to improve and further minimize the size of the fibrillator.

Mirowski always lectured in English, but he could speak fluently French, Hebrew, Polish, Russian, Spanish and Yiddish. In the mid 1980s, he developed a multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood. The only one who could possibly save him was a transfusion from a close relative. His brother, Abraham, was killed in the Holocaust.

Michel Mirowski died on March 26, 1990.

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