Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation homepage
Inventing Ourselves homepage
Design section
Performance section
Debates section
Multimedia section
Activities section
Resources section
 
         
  Multimedia      
         
 

In this activity you will explore how advances in artificial hearts and cardiac assist devices are affecting our lives. You may want to try taking the opinion poll before exploring the content below, and then taking it again when you are finished. Did your opinions change?

 
Photograph of couple using electronic device to vote, at Mending Broken Hearts public program

Take the Opinion Poll

 
       
 

Activity

Hear from our panel of experts. While listening to these presentations or reading the written transcripts, consider the following questions:

  • How do you feel about replacing body parts with artificial organs?
  • Should these new devices be made available to everyone, regardless of insurance or ability to pay?
  • Is the cost of developing these new devices worth the expense?
  • Do you think artificial organs will change the ways we think about life and death?
  • How might these new technologies reshape our lives and social interactions?

Photograph of Maggie Dennis

Lemelson Center historian Maggie Dennis discusses the current state of heart disease in the United States.


Listen and Read Transcript


Photograph of Shelley McKellar

Medical historian Shelley McKellar from the University of Western Ontario describes the history of efforts to invent devices to assist and replace the diseased heart.

Listen and Read Transcript


Photograph of Dr. Robert Kung

Dr. Robert Kung, Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer at AbioMed Inc., shares his story about the origins and development of the AbioCor Total Artificial Heart.

Listen and Read Transcript


Photograph of John Fielder

John Fielder, bioethicist and Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University, explains some of the social, economic, and ethical implications of these new technologies.

Listen and Read Transcript

 

    Related Resources  
       
    Download the complete classroom guide (PDF)  
       
    View a slideshow about the public program  
       

Smithsonian National Museum of American History homepage