If you checked your pulse right now and found that you didn't actually have one, you'd probably be in a lot of trouble. Unless, of course, you are one of select few human patients currently living with new artificial heart technology that continuously circulates blood flow, but leaves out the familiar thump.
It may seem ridiculous, but you don't actually need a heartbeat to be kept alive; you simply need some means of keeping your blood flowing. That's exactly what doctors Bud Frazier and Billy Cohn have created with their new, continuous-flow artificial heart. Using two turbines to replace the muscle of the heart, the new hardware keeps blood moving without actually mimicking the heart's pumping rhythm.
So far, the turbine heart has been installed in over 50 young cows and 3 humans. The first human patient was a man named Craig Lewis. Suffering from a laundry list of diseases, he was given just 12 hours to live before the doctors set to work giving him the first ever beat-less human heart. Within 48 hours of the surgery, Lewis was able to sit up and speak normally, and lived for a further 5 weeks before the rest of his body shut down from causes unrelated to the artificial heart.
The remarkable new technology is giving new hope to patients with terminal heart disease, and the doctors themselves see their invention as a step towards the goal of creating the perfect artificial heart. In an interview with Popular Science, Cohn even goes so far as to say, "I think we're on the verge, right now, of solving the artificial-heart problem for good. All we had to do was get rid of the pulse."
This article originally appeared on Tecca
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