Artificial heart may eliminate need for transplants

- Every 10 minutes, someone is added to the national transplant waiting list, and every day, 22 people on average die waiting for a match, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. But, thanks to innovations in bioengineering, all of that could change.

Conceived nearly 60 years ago, the total artificial heart (TAH) has helped sustain the sickest biventricular failure patients waiting for a transplant. While the design of the primary TAH used today has mostly remained stagnant since the ’80s, when it was first implanted in a patient, new models and clinical trials may lead to a better device and, one day, a permanent solution.

“We are still many years away from that,” Dr. Nader Moazami, director of the Cardiac Transplantation and Ventricular Assist Device Therapy Program at the Cleveland Clinic, told of a permanent artificial heart. “Although tremendous strides have been made, biocompatibility will always remain a challenge.”

The longest an individual has lived with the most widely used device worldwide, the SynCardia temporary TAH, was nearly four years.


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