Tiny pumps keep heart patients alive

Oct. 11, 2001
Since 1988, nearly 8,500 people have died in the U.S. while waiting for heart transplants, and there are still an estimated 4,100 people on the waiting list.

To keep them alive and ease their symptoms until a donor heart becomes available, engineers at Cardianove Inc., Montreal, have developed a small electric pump that fits inside a human heart. Using advanced software from IBM and Dassault Systemes, the designers developed the pump in 36 months, two years quicker than it typically takes to design such a device.

The pump will be machined out of titanium and have blades that are 100-microns thick. A battery located outside the patient's body will send electricity through the skin without using wires. The 22-mm-diameter pump will spin at 10,000 to 12,000 rpm. The company hopes to have the pump approved for human use in four years, and its ultimate goal is to build a more permanent pump with an operational life of 10 years or more.

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