An Intrathoracic Pump to Replace the Human Heart: Current Developments at the Cleveland Clinic

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THE number of deaths from cardiovascular disease each year in the United States is close to one million. If we eliminate patients who are old, those with are seriously ill or crippled for other reasons, the victims of heart disease alone can still be counted in the hundreds of thousands per year. Some cardiac patients who do not meet death too suddenly or patients who die in the operating room during attempts to correct irreparably sick hearts might be subjects for total replacement of their hearts with a pump. The question of whether or not such a pump inside the chest would be acceptable, desirable, and economically justifiable must be considered in the light of the only alternative—death. These philosophic questions, however, may well be postponed until it will have been shown that a heart to function inside the chest is available, reasonably reliable, and can replace an animal’s heart for some time.

The world literature on the subject can be easily summarized. Nearly all available information has been published in the Transactions of the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs, volumes 3 through 6.

In 1957, Dr. P. F. Salisbury outlined the possibilities for implantation of physiologic machines into the mammalian organism and identified the problems connected with artificial hearts and artificial kidneys. At the same meeting. Dr. Selwyn P. McCabe, then at the National Institutes of Health, demonstrated a heart built for implantation. It was made of polyvinyl chloride and brought to further perfection in a demonstration . . .