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A hearty good day to everyone, and welcome to the new week. And yes, today ‘hearty’ is indeed the operational word, as this seems to have been an important day in history as far as the heart is concerned.

The heart, symbol of life and love.
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Heart pump

Today we celebrate the birthday of Jerome Murray (20 Aug 1912 – 7 Jan 1998), an American inventor who invented the peristaltic pump that made open-heart surgery possible. The pump was unique in that it was able to pump blood without damaging the human cells, through a method of expansion and contraction that imitates the peristaltic process.

Artificial heart

Exactly 10 years after Murray’s birth, the Japanese surgeon Akutsu Tetsuzo (20 Aug 1922 – 9 Aug 2007), was born. Tetsuzo was the surgeon who built the first artificial heart that was successfully implanted into an animal. The heart that Tetsuzo developed was implanted into a dog on 12 Dec 1957, and kept the dog alive for about an hour and a half. While this may not be very long, it did open the door to further research into the domain, eventually leading to the succesful development of artificial hearts for humans.

So, even though today is not officially a heart holiday, it is clearly quite an important day in the history of the heart, and particularly the research and development of artificial technologies to support the human heart.

Spare a thought for your heart – it’s an amazing organ, and everyone who can live out their lives with their own, healthy hearts should count themselves really lucky. If something does go wrong, however, at least it’s good to know that there are clever people like Jerome Murray and Akutsu Tetsuzo in the world, who consider it their lives’ task to develop the incredible technologies that help keep us ticking along.

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