Artificial Heart Research: an Historical Perspective

Good Essays
Topics: Cardiology, Heart
Artificial Heart Research: An Historical Perspective
(Rayan R. Joshi Third-year paper Food and Drug Law Advisor: Peter Barton Hutt)

Good reasons for artificial hearts: * There are not enough heart donors (“Each year, about 30,000patients are deemed eligible candidates for heart transplantation. However, only a small fraction of this group, numbering about 2000, actually winds up receiving donor hearts. Given the current figures, it is unlikely that the supply of donor hearts will increase enough to render all transplantation a viable means of combating end-stage heart disease on a macro level.”)
Public opinions * Dr. Cooley believed that focusing the public's attention on the technology's future potential would have a positive effect on the field of research as a whole. * However, Cooley had grossly miscalculated in the realm of public opinion * Confronted with the gruesome images of a suffering human patient, society at large began to regard the entire held of artificial heart technology as “more monstrous than miraculous," and research efforts in this area were quelled to a substantial degree. * Nevertheless, given the state of the economy in the 80’s, and the aversion towards this area of research held by many members of society, the Jarvik team ( a team working on designing a artificial heart) was strapped for much needed funding. * The extremely large amount of media coverage provided to the Clark operation proved to be a double-edged sword for researchers in this area. While the press' love affair with Clark's story initially focused public attention on the amazing potential benefits of heart research, the vivid and disturbing images of Clark's suffering after his operation shifted public opinion squarely in the opposite direction. Commentators who had once championed the efforts of ambitious heart surgeons now openly questioned whether it was appropriate for human physicians to be “playing God" in this area. * If society

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