Artificial hearts are taking a big step forward, thanks to French biotech company Carmat.
In what it calls a world first, the company says it has successfully implanted its artificial heart into a patient at Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris.
The procedure, which Carmat says went smoothly, is a major first step towards determining how feasible artificial hearts are for patients in the long term. As for the patent himself, Carmat says he’s awake and is talking with his family.
Modeled after the human heart, Carmat’s device includes a pair of cavities split by a flexible, hydraulics-controlled membrane. Motorized pumps push blood and a special “actioning” fluid from one side of the heart to the other, mimicking the movements of heart contractions.
Above: Carmat’s artificial heart is as intricate as a real one.
And yet it hasn’t been easy getting this far. Designing a prosthesis as intricate as a heart is hard work, and Carmat faced a number of big engineering challenges with its device.
Not only did the company have to create something that minimized the risk of clot formation, but it also had to ensure that the device was repairable and reliable. This is something that people will quite literally trust their lives to.
And yet not even years of research could create something more efficient than nature: At roughly two pounds, Carmat’s heart is nearly three times heavier than the average human heart.