Streamlined Artificial Heart Could Solve Transplant Deficit

The new design has just one moving piece and no valves, significantly decreasing the chance of something going wrong.

Artificial Heart / Image: OHSU/KRISTYNA WENTZ-GRAFF
Artificial Heart / Image: OHSU/KRISTYNA WENTZ-GRAFF

At any given time, there are roughly 4,000 patients waiting for a heart transplant in the U.S. alone. But according to a recent Technology Review article, a new and incredibly simple artificial heart design could help solve the heart scarcity issue. A team at Oregon Health and Science University designed the device, which contains a single moving piece with no valves. It replaces the ventricles with a titanium tube inside of which a hollow rod moves back and forth to push blood to the lungs.

The team hopes the device will be the first of its kind to last the rest of a patient’s life due to its simple design. SynCardia’s artificial heart is the only one currently available in America, and it’s only meant to be a temporary solution while the patient awaits a transplant. OHSU’s heart device will likely be charged with a handheld battery pack outside of the body, but the team hopes to eventually develop a more efficient battery to be implanted and charged from outside the body.

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