The world can thank this neurosurgeon for John Mellencamp

Written by Laura Dyrda | October 07, 2014 | Print  |

Can you imagine a world without "Hurt So Good," "Jack & Diane," "Small Town," "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." and countless other John Mellencamp classics?

Without Robert Heimburger, MD, and his pioneering spirit, that world might be a reality.


In 1951, Mr. Mellencamp was born with spina bifida at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. He was one of three children born at the hospital with the disorder and underwent surgical correction that year; he's the only one who lived passed adolescence, according to an Ultimate Classic Rock report.


Now, the rock star finally met his surgeon — Dr. Heimburger — and the two discussed faith. Mr. Mellencamp was one of the first to undergo the experimental procedure, which cost his parents $1, and luckily for us, it worked.


Dr. Heimburger spent his career practicing neurosurgery and made several contributions to the field, particularly in myelomeningocele and spinal cord tethering, high-intensity focused ultrasound for the brain and stereotactic surgery, according to a Surgical Neurosurgery International report. He also pioneered washing hair and scalps instead of shaving for cranial surgery and was a neurosurgical consultant in Asian countries.


Dr. Heimburger served in world war two and was the first director of the division of neurosurgery at Indiana University Medical Center, where he also established the Neurological Surgery Service and Residency Program.


Spina bifida treatment is still evolving today. In September, surgeons at Texas Children's Fetal Center and Baylor College of Medicine completed the first two-port fetoscopic procedure to repair spinal bifida in-utero.


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