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The Dr. Denton A. Cooleyfounder of the Texas Heart Institute, conducted the world’s first total artificial heart implant on April 4, 1969, starting the quest to build a total artificial heart.
The device, developed by Dr. Domingo Liotta, was implanted in a 47-year-old patient with severe heart failure. The patient lived for nearly three days until a human heart became available for transplant.
This was one of the most significant medical milestones for patients waiting for a new heart and paved the way for mechanical devices to be used as a bridge to transplantation.
The Liotta-Cooley total artificial heart was an air-driven (pneumatic) double-ventricle pump.
Wada-Cutter hingeless valves controlled the flow of blood through the inlet and outlet areas of the pump. The two pumping chambers (the “ventricles”), the sleeve-like inlet ducts (the “atria”), and the outlet ducts were lined with special tissue that promoted the formation of a smooth cell surface.
The flexible inlet and outlet ducts were made from Dacron fabric and the pump chambers were made from Dacron fabric and Silastic plastic.
Dr. Cooley said he hadn’t planned on using the heart so soon, but that Mr. Karp’s critical condition had “compelled” him. He had been a heart patient for 10 years and had been so seriously ill that the damaged heart chamber had to be repaired. Dr. Cooley’s team hoped to remove part of the lower left chamber and repair it, but after nearly an hour it was beyond repair.