Heart transplantation has been one of the major surgeries required by patients with heart problems. There are complications involved in the surgery along with time taken to carry out the entire heart transplant process. There is a risk that patients may die along the process. Researchers have been trying to build an artificial heart which can be implanted permanently. There are complications involved in building an artificial heart too. Development of an artificial heart, which can imitate real heart can be extremely difficult because there must not be any infections or blood clots. As the number of parts the artificial heart is attached to increases, there is a probability that things could go wrong during the installation.
Researchers have been endeavoring to develop an artificial heart that could mimic the real heart and solve problems faced by heart patients. To address this issue, Sanjiv Kaul and team at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) have developed an artificial heart with a simple design. The design involves a single moving piece without any valves. They claimed that they have developed a device that can last for a lifetime with a person.
The design was originally created by Richard Wampler. The OHSU’s design creates artificial heart with a blood flow that imitates the natural pulse. Two lower chambers and ventricles of the human heart have been replaced by a titanium tube containing hollow rod that can move back and forth. This motion pumps blood into lungs and extracts oxygen. Then the oxygenated blood is moved to the rest of the body. Kaul outlined that the team believes that this simple design would overcome drawbacks of artificial heart designed till now.
There have been many attempts to build an artificial heart that came to fruition partially. AbioCor, the first artificial heart received an approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006. Till then, it has been implanted in only 15 people and no longer available. Though it was the size of a grapefruit, it was too big to fit in the bodies of children and many women. The only artificial heart available in the U.S. is the one made by SynCardia. This is a temporary fix for patients waiting for transplant of heart. Moreover, patients are required to carry along external air compressor to pump artificial heart from the outside. Other firms such as Cleveland Heart and French firm Carmat have been striving to build an artificial heart. Swiss researchers outlined last year that they built a 3D printed artificial heart. However, it started degrading only after 45 minutes.
Sanjiv Kaul and team tested their first prototype of artificial heart in cows and found no problems or side effects. Now, the researchers have been testing a smaller version, which can be fitted in 10-year old children. The research team decided that if it works long enough, then they will put it in humans. The device would be available for patients within next five years. The team has been designing the battery in such a way that it will need a small handheld battery pack which is needed to be recharged from outside. The innovation in artificial heart transplantation is moving forward. It is interesting to see if this model will be available in next few years.