Medical Pioneer, Wife Die Together
MIAMI (AP) _ Frank Gollan, who isolated the polio virus and invented the first heart- lung machine, and his wife died at their home in what their son said appeared to be a double suicide.
″My father made various allusions to suicide,″ said Andy Gollan, adding he believes his father and stepmother each took an overdose of pills Wednesday night.
Gollan, 78, left a note explaining that he and his 81-year-old wife, Alice, were concerned about their deteriorating health. The couple’s bodies were discovered late Thursday afternoon when neighbors noticed they had not picked up their mail or newspaper.
A spokesman for the Dade County Medical Examiner’s office said the deaths would not be classified until the results of toxicology tests are in, which could take up to two weeks.
Gollan had polio as a child and grew up determined to find a cure.
He began his American career in Cleveland after fleeing Prague in 1938 to escape the Nazis occupying his native Czechoslovakia.
He came to the United States with his wife and qualified as a medical practitioner in Ohio in 1939.
His isolation of the type MM poliomyelitis virus aided other scientists in developing a vaccine, said Dr. George Irvin, professor of surgery at the University of Miami.
In the early 1950s, Gollan invented the heart-lung machine for use in open- heart surgery. According to Irvin, it had a ″major impact on clinical medicine.″
In the past three years, Gollan had an egg-sized tumor removed from his brain, suffered a heart attack and underwent two spinal operations. His wife was blind, suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and was unable to walk alone.