First ‘Heartless’ Man: You don’t really need a Heart, or a Pulse
Two doctors Billy Cohn and Bud Frazier from the Texas Heart Institute successfully replaced a dying man’s heart with a device — proving that it is possible for your body to be kept alive without a heart, or a pulse.
In the short film ‘Heart Stop Beating’ by Jeremiah Zagar of Focus Forward Films, Zagar documents the process of the doctors — from cutting out the whole heart of 50 calves and replacing it with centrifugal pumps, to finally implanting it into their patient Craig Lewis. The turbine-like device, that are simple whirling rotors, developed by the doctors does not beat like a heart, rather provides a ‘continuous flow’ like a garden hose.
Craig Lewis was a 55-year-old, dying from amyloidosis — which causes a build-up of abnormal proteins. These proteins clog the organs so much that they stop working. But after the operation, with the ‘machine’ as his heart’s replacement, Lewis’ blood continued to spin and move through his body.
However, when doctors put a stethoscope to his chest, you wouldn’t hear a heartbeat (just a ‘humming’ sound). If you examined his arteries, there’s no pulse. If you hooked him up to an EKG, he’d be flat-lined — which by all criteria that we conventionally use to analyze patients, he is dead. This is proof that human physiology can be supported without a pulse.
Check out the short video below to see it all:
This is really cool—though one is, of course, tempted to make jokes about the Tin Man, or better yet, vampires.