Nearly 40 years after the first “machine heart” was successfully implanted, the artificial heart finally ushered in subversive changes

Last week, artificial heart transplantation ushered in a new achievement, providing new possibilities for patients with end-stage biventricular heart failure.

On December 2, 1982, cardiothoracic surgeon William DeVries carefully removed Barney Clark’s fragile heart full of cracks and moved the first permanent artificial heart in human history into the body of the dentist who suffered from heart failure.

Nearly 40 years after the first "machine heart" was successfully implanted, the artificial heart finally ushered in subversive changes

This artificial heart is called Jarvik-7 (named after doctor Robert Jarvik, MD). It is a small electronic device made of aluminum and polyurethane. A 400-pound air compressor is connected to help Clark’s left ventricle. Blood supply to help him sustain life.

After that, the Fengyun artificial heart operation in Clark’s body in a full 112 days, to accompany him through the last days, and his wife Una Loy together celebrated their 39 wedding anniversary, accompany the children left some good memories .

During the seven-hour operation, the whole world stared with breathlessness. After all, this operation has created a new field of medicine. It means that the most symbolic heart of all human organs is being conquered by machines.

At that time, such a move was as important as sending a man to the moon. It has conquered the world and has also caused a series of bioethical issues and concerns.

More than three months later, on March 23, 1983, Clark passed away at the age of 62. At the time, the cause of death was described as “circulatory failure and secondary multiple organ system failure.” The implantation of this new device pioneered by Clark has left a huge legacy for the world—injecting new vitality into the research of mechanical heart devices and exploring more possibilities.

The artificial heart ushered in a big change, providing the possibility for patients with end-stage biventricular heart failure

Nearly 40 years later, today, researchers continue to push the boundaries of what is possible for patients like Barney Clark. In the era of Barney Clark, the field of artificial hearts was still very young (there were almost no heart surgery programs in the United States), so implanting the first artificial heart was seen as a transformational leap. 

The field of artificial hearts has been developing along this path for decades. At present, patients with heart failure can implant a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) weighing only 10 ounces (about 283 grams) and 2.5 inches in diameter. Extend life. 

However, in the past 40 years, the progress of LVAD has been small and gradual. Compared with Clark’s operation, although the equipment is safer, more reliable and small, the left ventricular assist device only supports one chamber. For patients with end-stage biventricular heart failure , This artificial heart no longer works, they must wait for a suitable heart transplant. At present, in the United States and Europe alone, there are more than 20 million such patients waiting for a suitable source, and they are likely to die of heart failure before waiting. 

Last week, artificial heart transplantation ushered in a new achievement. A surgical team at Duke University Hospital, Dr. Jacob Schroder and Dr. Carmelo Milano successfully implanted a new generation of artificial heart into a 39-year-old man with heart failure. Became the first medical center in North America to perform this operation.

Nearly 40 years after the first "machine heart" was successfully implanted, the artificial heart finally ushered in subversive changes

 Once the device is approved by the FDA, it will provide more possibilities for the heart-a new transplant option for patients who need to pump blood into two chambers . 

The artificial heart was developed by CARMAT and has been studied in Europe and has been approved for use in Europe. February 10, 2021-The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted approval to the artificial heart developer Carmat, agreeing to use the new version of the artificial heart in the US Early Feasibility Study (EFS) and recruiting 10 end-stage In patients with biventricular heart failure, research began in the United States. The study will evaluate whether a new generation of artificial hearts is a viable option as a life-saving step before transplantation. 

Higher quality of life, more possibilities

For the first artificial heart operation nearly 40 years ago, the definition of success at that time was to ensure that Clark survived the operation. Now, this result has long been unable to satisfy heart surgery patients. They hope to improve their quality of life through surgery, and even stand up and walk around and live longer. 

“Our patients performed well after Monday’s surgery and we are encouraged,” said Milano, a transplant surgeon and lead researcher of Duke University’s device research. “When we evaluated this device, we were both excited and hopeful. It allowed patients with few options to regain their lives.”

This lucky patient was from Charlotte, North Carolina, and was referred to Duke University after a sudden and unexpected diagnosis of heart failure. The patient and his wife recently adopted their two-year-old adopted son. They came to Duke University only hoping to undergo heart bypass surgery.

However, as the patient’s condition deteriorated rapidly, traditional options including transplantation became too risky. The artificial heart developed by CARMAT is an implantable prosthesis. Some materials are derived from a biological valve made of bovine tissue. It can be permanently operated by an external power source. 

Nearly 40 years after the first "machine heart" was successfully implanted, the artificial heart finally ushered in subversive changes

“Due to the shortage of donor hearts, many patients cannot wait until when their hearts will be transplanted,” said Schroeder, the transplant surgeon in charge of the transplant. “We hope that there are new options to help these patients, many of whom suffer from a devastating disease like Mr. Moore, otherwise they cannot be considered for transplantation.”

Manesh Patel, MD, director of the Department of Cardiology at Duke University, said that the heart care program at Duke University has fostered a culture of innovation for decades to improve patient care.

“Our goal is to provide the best medical care and play a role in discovering it,” Patel said. “For this, innovation is essential. Our heart transplant team will provide local and national patients with care that they may not get elsewhere. The key is our cardiac surgeons, heart failure cardiologists, nurses and all care A culture of innovation and teamwork among our patients’ heart center staff.”

“The Duke Heart Transplant Program is not only recognized globally for its strong clinical volume, but more importantly, it provides higher quality and innovative treatments at the highest possible level,” Edward P, Director of Cardiovascular and Cardiovascular Department . Chen, MD, said in an interview. 

Like the operation nearly 40 years ago, the successful implantation of the CARMAT artificial heart represents one more treatment option available to patients with end-stage heart disease, and tens of millions of patients usher in new possibilities in life. ” 

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