Artificial Heart Research: an Historical Perspective

Topics: Artificial heart, Cardiology, Heart Pages: 5 (1566 words) Published: November 14, 2012
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 were to somehow lose interest in the potential benefits of MCSS technology, then researchers in this area would lose access to the public and private funding that they desperately need in order to ensure continued advancement. * The scientific import of the heart, combined with its cultural significance, renders heart research a particularly sensitive area in which to pursue the betterment of society. Nevertheless, pioneers with the courage to plow forward in this field over the last half century have saved countless lives as a result of their unwavering efforts. One thing, however, remains clear. If society is ever to reap the full rewards offered by MCSS technology, it will have to recalibrate its attitudes regarding the field in a more open-minded direction, one that hinges less on short term success, and more on long-term progress. Heroic patients like Barney Clark have accepted this challenge. Time will tell if society at large is capable of doing the same.

There are two main branches of heart technology.
Partial Artificial hearts:
* Partial devices supplement patients' natural heart function, assisting those patients whose organs, while somewhat viable, are incapable of functioning adequately on their own Total artificial hearts: ( we should focus on this !!)

* Total artificial hearts (TAH), on the other hand, are devices that actually replace patients' natural hearts. Such devices are designed for situations in which natural organs are so damaged that even supplementation via a partial device isn't enough to produce sufficient circulatory function. Collectively, partial and total artificial heart devices are classified as mechanical circulatory support systems (MCSS).

3 ways these technologies help
1 First, devices can serve as“bridges" to transplant, allowing patients' conditions to stabilize while they await the delivery of donorhearts. 2 Second, partial devices can be used, either temporarily or permanently, to allow a patient's natural...
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