Susan Young Rojahn

A View from Susan Young Rojahn

Smallest Artificial Heart Keeps Baby Alive

Italian doctors implant tiny pump into a 16-month-old boy awaiting his new heart.

  • May 24, 2012

Here’s a new twist on an long-running story: an artificial heart kept a baby boy alive for 13 days while doctors waited for his new heart, reports Reuters. The bridge-to-transplant device was an infant version of the Jarvik 2000 and weighed only 11 grams (you can see the device in this slideshow). The titanium implant does not beat but instead uses a rotating motion to pump blood from the heart and through the body.

The baby-sized device was invented by American entrepreneur and doctor Robert Jarvik and had previously been tested only in animals. Jarvik’s artificial hearts first made headlines in 1982 when an early model was implanted into a 61-year-old man. That pioneering patient lived for 112 days. Since then, artificial heart technology has vacillated between hated and hopeful  (see Antonio Regalado’s 1999 feature CPR for the Artificial Heart  and Emily Singer’s 2006 story An Artificial Heart That Doesn’t Beat). The Jarvik 2000 has been used as both a bridge-to-transplant device as well as a “destination therapy” for European patients ineligible for heart transplants. The FDA recently granted conditional approval of a 350-patient study for the Jarvik 2000 as a destination therapy in the U.S, meaning it would be used to extend the lives of people who are dying from congestive heart failure.

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.

  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Join in and ask questions as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

You've read of free articles this month.