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Who Invented Artificial Heart

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The heart is a hollow muscular organ that pumps blood throughout the blood vessels to various parts of the body by repeated, rhythmic contractions. It has four chambers:

  • the left and right atria (blood receiving chambers)
  • the left and right ventricles (the blood pumping chambers)
Blood in the right ventricle (right heart) is pumped into the pulmonary artery and on to your lungs. Blood in the left ventricle (left heart) is pumped into the aorta and through to your body.

An artificial heart is a mechanical device, that is connected to your heart or implanted in your chest to help or replace a failing heart. It may have several valves, a mechanism to propel blood forward, and one or more chambers. Sometimes an artificial heart may help your heart temporarily, until yours recovers. If this is the case, the artificial heart will be removed when it is no longer needed. It gives us the new life which makes us eager to know the person who invented it.

artificial heart

The credit of inventing the artificial heart goes to Willem Johan Kolff although, the first total artificial heart used in a human being was created by Dr. Domingo Liotta.

Widely considered the “father” of the field of artificial organs, Willem J. Kolff, passed away at the age of 97 on February 11, 2009, in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. Along with artificial heart, Dr. Kolff also invented the kidney dialysis machine. He also built one of the first heart-lung machines, a device that made open-heart surgery possible for the first time. In 1957 the implantation of a totally artificial heart in the chest of an animal was accomplished for the first time.

Dr. Willem Kolff received his M.D. from the University of Leyden Medical School, Holland, in 1938, as well as his Ph.D. from the University of Groningen, Holland. More than 300 articles in scientific journals bear Dr. Kolff's name. He obtained more than 12 honorary doctorates at universities all over the world, and more than 120 international awards.

Dr. Domingo Liotta is also a pioneer as discussed before. The world’s first artificial heart was implanted in a history-making operation at St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston 45 years back. The plastic heart, called the Liotta-Cooley Artificial Heart after its inventor, Dr. Domingo Liotta, and the surgeon who implanted it, was implanted on April 4, 1969 to a 47-year-old patient "Haskell Karp". The artificial device kept him alive for three days until a human heart was available for transplant. Sadly, he lived less than two days after the human heart was implanted. The procedure also led to one of the longest-running feuds in medical history.

Artificial hearts are very reliable and mechanical failure is extremely rare. Complications that may occur if you have an artificial heart include bleeding and infection. Major organs, such as the kidneys, liver or lungs may also fail, but these organs may have started failing before you received the artificial heart.

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