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Artificial heart from The Jarvik Aritifical Heart System, Europe, 1975-1985

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Invented in the 1970s by Robert Jarvik (b. 1946), an American physician, this artificial heart was intended to sustain critically ill heart patients in hospital while they were awaiting heart transplants. The plastic and Velcro model replicated the lower two chambers of the heart and was powered by an external compressor. The first artificial heart was implanted into a patient in December 1982. The patient survived for 112 days. This example was donated to the Science Museum’s collections by the Papworth Hospital, the largest cardiothoracic hospital in the country and the main centre in the United Kingdom for heart and lung transplants.

Object number:

1999-834 Pt1

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Glossary: prostheses

Artificial body parts, or materials inserted into tissue for functional, cosmetic, or therapeutic effect. Prostheses can be functional (artificial arms and legs), or cosmetic (artificial eye).

Glossary: artificial heart

A mechanical device that is implanted into the body to replace the heart. A true artificial heart is very rare, and the term is often confused with a ventricular assist device - a device that is used to partially or completely replace the function of a failing heart.