Billy Cohn and Bud Frazier, two doctors from the Texas Heart Institute, have successfully replaced a dying man’s heart with a mechanical device – proving that it IS possible for your body to be kept alive without a heart, or even a pulse.
In the short film “Heart Stop Beating” (below) by Jeremiah Zagar of Focus Forward Films, Zagar documents the whole amazing process, from removing the hearts of 50 calves and replacing them with centrifugal pumps, to finally implanting their new device into patient Craig Lewis.
The turbine-like gizmo, which consists of simple whirling rotors, doesn’t beat like a heart, but instead provides a “continuous flow” of blood, kind of like a garden hose.
After the doctors experimented on one of the calves, Doctor Cohn told NPR: “If you listened to her chest with a stethoscope, you wouldn’t hear a heartbeat. If you examined her arteries, there’s no pulse. If you hooked her up to an EKG, she’d be flat-lined.”
Craig Lewis was a 55-year-old man, dying from amyloidosis, a disease that causes a build-up of abnormal proteins. The proteins clog the organs so badly that they eventually stop working.
After the operation, with the “machine” as his heart’s replacement, Lewis’ blood continued to spin and circulate through his body.
The thing is, when doctors put a stethoscope to Lewis’ chest, no heartbeat or pulse can be detected…only a humming sound). ”By all criteria that we conventionally use to analyze patients,” Dr. Cohn said, he is dead.
This is proof that “human physiology can be supported without a pulse.”
Cohn says they will still need to convince the rest of the world that you don’t necessarily need a pulse i order to be alive.
“We look at all the animals, insects, fish, reptiles and certainly all mammals, and see a pulsatile circulation,” he says. “And so all the early research and all the early efforts were directed at making pulsatile pumps.”
However, the only reason blood needs to be pumped rhythmically instead of continuously is because of the nature of the heart tissue itself.
“The pulsatility of the flow is essential for the heart, because it can only get nourishment in between heartbeats,” Cohn says. “If you remove that from the system, none of the other organs seem to care much.”
More in the video below.