Heart Stop Beating is the story of two visionary Texas Heart Institute doctors, Dr. Billy Cohn and Dr. Bud Frazier. Frustrated by the often short lifespans and mulitple complications of usual heart replacement devices, the two invented a two centrifugal pump machine. Cohn and Frazier tested the machine by removing the hearts of several calf’s and replacing them with the device.
After much success it was time for human trials.
The first patient would be Craig Lewis, was 55-year-old dying from amyloidosis, a disease which causes a buildup of abnormal proteins. The proteins clog the organs so much that they stop working. Lewis’ heart was so damaged, he only had 12 hours to live.
So, in March of 2011, the doctors successfully replaced Lewis’ heart with the ‘continuous flow’ device they developed, proving that life was possible without a pulse or a heart beat–essentially without a human heart.
Although Lewis died due to complications from his disease, the heart pumps have yet to wear out like traditional devices, the trade off is the loss of the familiar and elemental sound of a beating human heart — a small price for a working heart.