In the spring of 2011, Mr. Craig Lewis, 55, was dying from a heart condition that caused build-ups of abnormal proteins, a pacemaker was not an option for him.


So two Texas Heart Institute physicians ( Dr. Billy Cohn and Dr. Bud Frazier) pioneered a solution to save Mr. Lewis’ life.  They installed a “continuous flow device” that allows blood to circulate in the man’s body without a pulse. The device was installed after removing Mr. Lewis’ heart and within one day, the patient was awake, alert and oriented. 

The device had previously been tested on two 50 calves, but no humans.  Once they removed the hearts of these calves and installed the device, the calves were moving, eating and sleeping as normal, by the next day. If you listened with a stethoscope there would be no heartbeat.  An EKG would reveal that the patient had flat-lined.

Mr. Lewis’ was only given 12 hours to live, as his amyloidosis. He was completely reliant on a dialysis machine, a breathing machine, and an external blood pump.  His physicians new he would die if they didn’t try something. So after receiving permission from Mr. Lewis’ wife to try the experimental procedure, they installed the device. 

The device supplies continuous flow of blood through the body using blades to push the blood through, so there is no pulse, upon auscultation.


Former Vice President Dick Cheney has similar ventricular assist devices, but the difference is that his  assists an already beating heart.

Texas Heart Institute president Dr James T. Willerson referred to this procedure as ‘medical history in the making.’



 Denton Cooley. Implanted the first artificial human heart prototype in 1969.

Sadly, the man died in April 2011 from multi organ failure.   The story in very interesting, but from a medical standpoint I wonder if the use of these “blades” in the device may damage the red blood cells. 

What do you think about this procedure? Comment below.