Wilfred Gordon Bigelow, OC, surgeon (born 18 June 1913 in Brandon, MB; died 27 March 2005 in Toronto, ON). Dr. Bigelow's special contribution to surgery of the heart was the use of hypothermia to slow tissue metabolism and thus protect the heart and brain from damage (see Cold Weather Injuries). He began this work with tedious but indispensable animal trials and by 1952 he was ready to apply this procedure to patients. At the University of Toronto, the hypothermia research program led to another equally important breakthrough for cardiac surgery — the development of the first implantable cardiac pacemaker.
Bigelow's account of these studies in the book Cold Hearts: The Story of Hypothermia and the Pacemaker in Heart Surgery (1984) is interwoven with the story of his own development as a surgeon-scientist. The book is a significant contribution to the history of cardiac surgery and for it he was awarded the Jason A. Hannah Medal of the Royal Society of Canada. After retirement he was professor emeritus of surgery, University of Toronto. For his work Bigelow received the Order of Canada in 1981 and was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 1997.