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Photograph of Jarvik-7 heartJarvik-7
The Jarvik-7 artificial heart was authorized by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as a bridge to organ transplant. It was developed at the Institute for Biomedical Engineering, University of Utah, by Dr. Robert Jarvik and his colleagues. Like previous artificial hearts, the Jarvik-7 was a two-chamber pneumatic (compressed-air) pump. Tubes connected to the pump extended out of the body through the chest and hooked up to a large electrical drive unit. The drive unit was made of polyurethane and Dacron vascular grafts, with carbon-disk valves. Velcro secured the right and left ventricles together and allowed for manipulation inside the chest cavity.

In December 1982 Barney Clark was the first human patient implanted with a Jarvik-7. Clark lived with the artificial heart for 112 days, eventually succumbing to multiple organ failure. Due to postoperative complications, the FDA stopped clinical trials of the Jarvik-7 in 1990.

The Jarvik-7 shown here was implanted in Michael Drummond in August 1985 by cardiac surgeon Jack Copeland, who referred to the mechanical heart as the “Model-T of its era.” At the time, the critically ill twenty-five-year-old was the youngest patient to receive an artificial heart. Drummond lived with the Jarvik-7 for nine days until a donor heart could be found. He died four-and-a-half years later of multiple organ failure.

The CardioWest Temporary Total Artificial Heart is a smaller version of the Jarvik-7. In 2004 the FDA approved the CardioWest as a temporary replacement for patients awaiting transplantation.

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