When Skip Murphy dragooned me to blog with GraniteGrok, I said “Okay, whatever…but what do you want me to write about?” He said “Whatever interests you.” Okay, that’s mostly politics, especially in New Hampshire…but every once in a while….
Something comes up. Like this. The picture on the left. The human heart. That is, something that may be on the verge of being obselete, and in the process the human species may end the necessity of having…any heartbeat.
I know. Science fiction, right? But an article that just appeared in PopSci.com surely blew my mind. Here’s the deal….
In late 2003 Dr. Bud Frazier—a famous heart doctor at Texas Heart Institute implanted a newly approved…uh…”turbine pump” in the chest of a young man from Central America. It was designed to assist his diseased heart, not replace it. He was told to come back to the hospital for “frequent checkups,” but neither he nor his family was fully conversant in English, so “the young man walked out of the hospital and disappeared. When he finally showed up eight months later…
…Dr. Frazier held a stethoscope to his chest and was stunned to hear no heartbeat at all. None.”
What happened? It turned out that although the turbine pump “had been designed to assist the heart, not replace it, in this case it seemed to be doing all the work: not just helping the left ventricle push oxygenated blood to the body, but pushing the blood hard enough to flow through the body, then back thruogh the useless heart to the lungs, through the useless heart again, and into the pump to complete the loop and begin the process all over again. The reason the young man had never come back for follow-up, he told Frazier, was that he’d felt perfectly fine.”
But…but…he had no pulse.
As the author of the article wrote, “here’s where the story gets spooky.”
In the end, another equally famous heart doctor states offhandedly to the writer, “I think we’re on the verge, right now, of solving the artificial-heart problem for good. All we had to do was get rid of the pulse.”
Like he said…”spooky”. But apparently very, very true.
You can read the entire fascinating article, entitled No Pulse: How Doctors Reinvented the Human Heart, HERE.