Physicians and researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in the US are developing a new device to offer a permanent solution for heart failure patients.
The total artificial heart was designed by now-retired Richard Wampler, who was a surgical resident at OHSU.
Currently, only one artificial heart is approved in the US for human use but it is said to be a temporary fix until patients get a human heart transplant.
However, whilst approximately 4,000 people in the US have been waiting for a heart transplant, only around 3,400 human donor hearts were transplanted in 2017.
The OHSU total artificial heart is intended to permanently replace a failing heart in nearly all adults and children aged 10 years or above.
It is designed to replace the heart’s two ventricles with a titanium tube made of a titanium alloy-coated hollow rod that shuttles back and forth to allow circulation of blood to the lungs and various other body parts.
The capability of the device to duplicate a natural human pulse is expected to reduce blood damage, decrease blood clotting risk and possibly minimise certain complications associated with devices that don’t pulse.
OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute CEO Sanjiv Kaul said: “Considering the human heart beats 14 million times a year, it’s crucial that an artificial heart is durable and robust.
“The simple, efficient design of our total artificial heart makes its potential for failure very low.”
At present, the researchers are planning to test the latest, small variant of the device in sheep, with plans to further expand the studies to human subjects.