The HeartMateII Photo: Texas Heart® Institute

The HeartMateII Photo: Texas Heart® Institute

Three years ago, Technology Review ran an article about a new concept for an artificial heart that would operate with continuous flow pumps rather than an implanted hydraulic system. The new concept would create smaller, more long-lasting artificial hearts, but it would also render patients pulse-less.

At the time the article was published, in September 2006, the long term impact of living-pulse free was unknown, and the funding needed to address the issue was pending. “A lot of work needs to be done before this can even be considered for clinical application,” the program director at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute told Technology Review.

Evidently a lot of work has been done because last week news surfaced about a woman from Singapore who has received a continuous flow artificial heart transplant. Salina Mohamed So’ot, a 30-year-old administrative assistant, was diagnosed with end-stage heart failure, according to the Straits Times of Singapore. Her slight frame made her an ideal candidate for the new, smaller model, called the HeartmateII. With the artificial heart safely implanted, So’ot is now living without a pulse.

Slice contacted an alumna at the Texas Heart Institute, which was instrumental in researching and developing the HeartmateII. Cardiology Fellow Cindy Tom ’97 acknowledged that the staff at Texas Heart have been pioneers in the field and said that the institute’s collaborative approach has been instrumental to its success.

“It’s a place where the best cardiothoracic surgeons, anesthesiologists, and cardiologists come together to do great things together,” she said. ” The many different medicine teams from pulmonologists (lung docs), infectious disease specialists, nephrologists involved with the help of excellent support staff (from the nurses to the rehab team to the dietician to the respiratory techs) all work together…  It’s one of the few perfect places where the team approach really helps to pull people through.”