Artificial Hearts

Artificial hearts are devices that can be used to support the heart of a patients while in surgery, used as bridge for the time needed to do a hard transplant or replace the heart completely when a transplant cannot be done. Artificial hearts have been in development since the 1940’s, but the first successful transplant took place in 1982. The heart used was known as the Jarvik 7, which was designed by a a team including Robert Jarvik and William Johan Kolff.

The device has been developed to also support failing hearts called a ventricular assist device. Another kind of artificial heart is mostly used during cardiac surgery. This is called a cardiopulmonary bypass machine and will be used for a few hours at a time only. This is an external machine that will provide the functions of the heart as well as the lungs.

Artificial Hearts

In 1964, April 4, Denton Cooley and Domingo Liotta replaced the heart of a dying man. The heart was artificial and was required to provide the functions required between a heart transplant. The heart was used for 64 hours in which time the patient started recovering. The artificial heart was then replaced by a donor heart, however 32 hours after the transplant from the donor the patient passed award due to fungi infection, which has spread to both lungs. This was mostly caused by a drug complication.

Hybrid heart assistance device

Hybrid devices are ventricular assist devices. These devices are used on patients that still have some heart functions. The VAD will assist the heart to perform properly, these devices will be able to help patients for up to 15 years while waiting for a donor heart or to help the heart recover without needing to work as hard as it would without the assisting device. Should the heart recover with the device in place patients will be able to regain the full use of their hearts, which means the device can be removed. Another great benefit to the VAD heart is that the natural heart will remain in place. This will be able to provide the functions of the heart should the machine ever come to a stand still. The natural heart could then provide the functions needed while the situation is being evaluated and solved.

How does the artificial Heart work

There are a number of different artificial hearts available. They also provide different functions depending on what the patient requires. A natural heart consists of a atrium, which is there to collect blood to be pumped out again by the ventricles. The blood is pumped to the lungs where oxygen is gathered and then distributed to the body by the left atrium. Each lung has a pair of valves that control the blood flow.

Artificial hearts are now able to replace the function or gathering and distributing blood just like the natural heart. There artificial hearts have been developed with plastic and other man made materials to replicate these functions. Today patients are not restricted to stay in once place should an artificial heart be used. Patients will receive a backpack that contains the pump required to complete the functions of a natural heart. Before patients would be restricted to remain in 1 place as a machine would have been required to complete these functions.

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