Medical Advances are Beautiful
This polyurethane heart can keep critically ill cardiac patients alive while they await a donated human heart. Once the device is surgically implanted, its attached plastic tubes run through the patient’s skin to a battery-powered pneumatic pump. Despite the cost—$106,000— the demand is strong. Some 3,000 people await heart transplants in the U.S., but only about 2,100 donor hearts are available each year. While boosting the supply of artificial hearts is a relatively simple technical hurdle, increasing the supply of human hearts is more challenging. Who will be tomorrow’s donors? That question lingers for a patient in Germany, who recently received a CardioWest artificial heart like this one.