A Robot Where My Heart Used To Be


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               The thought of being half robot and half human seems like it can only exist on the silver screens of Hollywood films, but it is actually soon to be a reality. Scientist plan on not just producing prostatic limbs but human hearts could soon be in the chest of someone you know. Cancer is something that you hear about all the time but heart disease seems to get a lot less attention even though "Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. People of all ages and backgrounds can get the condition."( Cvc.gov) Heart failure can be fixed with a transplant but the supply of hearts is too little.

 Often times the people suffering from heart disease cannot get a transplant in time due to the high demand for hearts and the low supply of them. While people can get temporary fixes for their hearts while they wait for a transplant that they are more than likely not to get there is no long term fix.

Dr. Cohn and Dr. Frazier plan on changing all of that by making a long term artificial replacement for an unhealthy heart possible. In order to do so they had to look at the problem in a different light. Short term heart transplants usually focus on recreating the beat of the heart in order to assist the failing heart; however it is too hard to do and can't keep the patient alive for a long period of time. So what they decided to do was take away the heart beat totally and replace with a constant flow of blood. Taking away the heart beat and replacing it with a constant flow Dr. Cohn compared to the Wright brothers creation of the first plane "When people started to develop flying machines, he says, they first tried to emulate the way birds fly -- by flapping the wings aggressively. It wasn't until they decided, 'We can't do this the was Mother Nature did,' and came up with the rapidly spinning propeller that the Wright Brothers were able to fly,"(Dr.Cohn) This type of mindset is what helped them develop their artificial heart, not using mother nature's heart beat but using a man-made propeller to evenly and constantly pump blood.

To see if their artificial heart worked they had to try it out on animals first. They tested in on 70 calves at first and while the EKG reading was a flat line the calves were still able to walk around and eat grass like nothing had happened. They lived past the 90 day period that the FDA had set for them.  Then they were given the chance to try it on a patient who had a failing heart and it worked just as expected.  

With little defects the product still has some years to go both of the scientists agree, but they are now heading in the right direction and only trying to fix small problems and are on the brink of making one of the biggest discovers in health of this generation. Their heart could be a solution to a problem that kills nearly 600,000 Americans every year.

                Dr. Cohn and Frazier looked at this problem in a way that I think  that matches what we have learned in science 200 this year perfectly, took like at things from every angle and question them. When they had trouble creating an artificial heart the way Mother Nature did with recreating the beat they switched it up and went a man-made way of doing things by making the flow a constant.  

 

  http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/04/health/permanent-artificial-heart/index.html?hpt=he_c1

http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/statistics.htm

1 Comment

Wow. This is the first time I have heard anything about the idea of artificial hearts. The whole concept to me is crazy/bizarre to me .. imagine people walking around with a metal heart, no pulse, no heartbeat... I find it a little creepy. But if so many people are affected by heart issues, it makes sense that doctors would be working on something like this. After reading your post it really does sound like it is something that is not that far off in the future. What I am interested to see is how this technology will come into play for children born with heart defects.. they need a heart that grows as they grow, and I wonder how the doctors are planning to tackle this problem. Last year, there was a doctor who used an artificial heart on a baby, but only until he could get a new heart. Read more here:

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/05/24/baby-saved-by-smallest-artificial-heart/

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