For many decades scientists dreamed of replacing the failing human heart with an artificial machine. Only technical advances and application of newest technologies of the last couple decades made it possible to develop feasible pumps that can reach this task. Starting in the 1930s with Vladimir Demikhov's first complete mechanical support of a dog′s circulation for 5,5 hours with the natural heart excised, followed by extensive research and developments of the group around Willem J. Kolff in Cleveland in the 1950s and 1960s, this research cumulated in the first clinical application of a total artificial heart (TAH) in Houston in 1969, developed by Domingo Liotta and implanted by Denton A.Cooley. The field experienced another culmination in the clinical application of a Jarvik 7 TAH as chronic implant into Mr. Barney Clark in 1982 in Salt Lake City. For a long period of time the total artificial heart consisted of two separate pumps tried to mimic the pulsatility of the natural heart and was powered by pressurized air. Recently, rotary pump technology was implemented resulting in smaller, more compact, electric driven pumps.
This special issue of Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine will be dedicated to the current status of research and the science of total artificial hearts and I invite everybody working in this exiting field to participate with their contributions in order to foster our understanding of the applied technology and newest results of their clinical application.
Prof. Georg M. Wieselthaler
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