The size of an artificial heart will be determined by the components that it comes with. For example, the Abiocor system comes with an internal pumping unit, electronics system, rechargeable battery and other parts. The pumping unit is about the size of a human hand and weighs 2 lbs.
Advantages of the Artificial Heart
The biggest benefit of the artificial heart is that it can be used while a patient waits for a donor. After the heart is removed from the heart donor, it must be implanted in 4 hours or less time. The artificial heart can also be used for people who are diagnosed with less than a month to live.
If you are not eligible for a heart transplant, the artificial heart can extend your life beyond the 30 days. The size of an artificial heart is not indicative of its capability; it lies in the way the device is manufactured.
VADS and Artificial Hearts
The biggest difference between the artificial heart and the VAD (ventricular assist device) is that with a VAD, the entire heart is not removed. In the case of an artificial heart, it is. Generally, the VAD is used to aid the heart that is weakening or suffered an attack.
While the VAD assists the heart, the artificial heart will do all the work. If the heart transplant is total, the entire organ will be surgically removed. This is done while the patient is undergoing a bypass. Once the heart is removed, the artificial heart will be grafted to the vessels.
When the heart is in place, it will be powered on. The person will be removed from the bypass. In the case of a VAD, it will aid the ailing heart. With the artificial heart, all the functions of the removed organ will now be performed by the device.
The Jarvik Heart
The Jarvik heart is the first artificial heart to be placed inside a human being. It was invented by Robert Jarvik in 1982. The implant was performed by William DeVries on patient Barney Clark. Since that time, the Jarvik heart has been used hundreds of times. Just like modern hearts, the Jarvik heart is used to pump blood in the body.
Today, the size of an artificial heart has become more compact and less unwieldy. The efficiency of the device has also improved considerably. As technology improves, the quality of the artificial heart will only get better.