Inventor and WSU medical school visionary inducted



FAIRBORN — Dr. Richard A. DeWall, the inventor of an early heart-lung machine used in cardiac surgery worldwide who played a critical role in founding the medical school at Wright State University, will be inducted posthumously into the Dayton Region’s Walk of Fame.

A pioneer heart surgeon and prolific inventor, DeWall created the first workable, portable bubble oxygenator in 1955. The DeWall Bubble Oxygenator soon became the model used around the world for open-heart surgery.

DeWall came to Dayton in 1966 to join the Cox Heart Institute. With encouragement from philanthropist Virginia Kettering, he started the first open heart surgery program at Kettering Hospital, where he later established the general surgery residency training program and served as director.

Soon after arriving in Dayton, DeWall felt the city might support a medical school to supply doctors for local hospitals. For the next three years, in addition to running his increasingly busy surgical practice, DeWall worked to enlist support for the new school from community leaders. He wrote the original proposal for what became the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine.

Richard A. DeWall performing the first open-heart surgery in the Dayton area.

In gratitude for his contribution to the medical community and Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, Julie Gilkeson established the Richard DeWall, M.D., Lecture Series Fund in 2017.

The Walk of Fame is a significant legacy of the City of Dayton’s bicentennial celebration in 1996. As of 2017, 170 honorees have been recognized on the Dayton Region’s Walk of Fame for their outstanding and enduring personal or professional contributions to the community, nation and the world.

Inductees are honored for their milestones in arts and culture, aviation, business, community service, education, entertainment, environment, government, innovation, medicine, philanthropy, science, significant personal achievement and sports.

The Dayton Region’s Walk of Fame is installed in the sidewalks along West Third Street between Shannon and Broadway Streets in the historic Wright-Dunbar Business District, and it can be enjoyed all year.

DeWall will be recognized at the Dayton Region Walk of Fame Induction Luncheon 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, at the Sinclair Conference Center, Building 12 – Sinclair Conference Center, 444 W. Third St. To register for the event, visit

For more information on Wright State University visit