Heart Pump May Replace Transplants

Tuesday, 01 August, 2000

A miniature artificial heart developed by surgeons from Oxford, southern England, and Texas, United States, has been successfully implanted as a temporary measure in a US patient.

The tiny turbine was inserted into the left ventricle of the heart, which is responsible for 80% of the pumping function. It is anticipated that the device will be left in place for six months before being removed in readiness for the patient's heart transplant.

The surgeons will then be given an opportunity to examine the damaged heart to assess the state of the muscle, blood vessels and tissue as well as any evidence that the pump has enabled the heart to heal itself. In the long term, it is anticipated the pump would make heart transplants obsolete.

Called the Jarvik 2000, the device can pump up to 10 L of blood a minute and operates indefinitely without the need for lubrication. The turbine helps the heart pump freshly oxygenated blood into the aorta and is powered by a cable that passes through the patient's scalp to a small rechargeable battery behind the ear.

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