Man behind artificial heart!

Born: William Castle DeVries December 19, 1943 (age 72) Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Nationality: American

Fields: cardiothoracic surgeon

Known for : Dr. William DeVries and his surgical replaced a diseased heart with the Jarvik-7, the first permanent artificial heart ever used for a human patient.

              On 19th December 1943 William Castle DeVries a great person was born whose work has contributed immensely in the history of science.
Today, in This week that year we are going to talk about this great man and his contribution to the world.

William DeVries was born December 19, 1943 in Brooklyn Navy Yard. His father, Henry DeVries, was a Dutch immigrant who died in combat on the destroyer USS Kalk (DD-611) in 1944 during the Battle of Hollandia, where he had enrolled as a naval surgeon. 

In 1979 Doctor DeVries went back to the University of Utah to become the chairman of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery; there, he used to perform two to five open-heart operations a week.At that time the university was known for being one of the country’s few pioneering centers for advanced surgery on vital organs and their transplanting and implanting into animals and humans.In Salt Lake City he worked with doctor Robert Jarvik and doctor Kolff. By the time DeVries was back to Salt Lake City, the calves with artificial heart were able to live up to six, seven, even eight months. These results inspired him to take on with the work and so he started a series of long-term animal experiments. After two years of experiments, doctor DeVries and his colleagues tried to obtain the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health(NIH) approval. At the beginning, nobody really paid much consideration to the work, but after a while it started to acquire new attention, things changed, and even the NIH started to be interested in the project. Therefore, DeVries started to look for a suitable patient for the first attempt. In 1982, the FDA gave the approval to experiment the device on a human, and so a panel of six members at the University of Utah Medical Center started searching for a patient. The group was composed of two cardiologists, a psychiatrist, a nurse, a social worker and DeVries; the decision had to be unanimous.

The first patient was a Seattle dental surgeon named Barney Clark, affected with an end-stage congestive heart failure. The seven-hour surgery was carried out in December 2, 1982.

The Jarvik-7

The Jarvik-7 was a mechanical device, made of polyurethane and aluminium, which was used to replace the two ventricles of a human heart.

The pumping action came from air,compressed by an electrical unit located outside of the patient’s body. The human-made organ had two separate ventricles grafted with Dracon sleeves to the native atria and great vessels. It was powered by a 400-pound (180 kg) air compressor, connected to the heart, through a tube coming out of the patient body. In order to give the patients the ability to move, it was also invented a portable power console which was the size of a briefcase. Since 1982, 350 patients have used the Jarvik-7 heart model, and its original design is still used for the modern Jarvik-7, although due to propriety passages the device name is now “SynCardia”. On October 2004, the Jarvik-7 model was the first medical device to receive a full-FDA approval.

An Unusual Eulogy

Doctors do not usually attend their patients’ funerals because of an unwritten code about maintaining professional distance, but DeVries attended the funerals of several of his patients, including Barney Clark and Murray Haydon. At the widow’s request, DeVries gave the eulogy at Bill Schroeder’s funeral. By March 1987, forty-nine Jarvik-7 hearts were implanted by different surgeons in different parts of the world in dying patients as temporary bridges to transplantation. In January 1988 DeVries was close to performing his fifth artificial-heart transplant when a human donor heart was found for the patient. In January 1990 the FDA withdrew its approval of the Jarvik-7, ending the innovative program.

Featured articles:


Artificial Heart : Furor Blurs Horizon for Dr. DeVries

January 4, 1987 | JANNY SCOTT, Times Staff Writer

Dr. William C. DeVries remembers a time when his life was simpler. He knew what he had to do and believed that he knew why. People were dying and he thought he could help. So he sliced out a man’s diseased heart and put in an artificial one. The operation on Barney Clark made medical history. In the universe of heart surgery, surgeon DeVries had walked on the face of the moon. He had replaced a human heart with a mechanical one–with no plans of going back

Draft by:                                                         PRAJAKTA & TWINKAL.



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