A team of scientists from the Netherlands has developed the world’s first robotic heart covered with human body tissues. The “hybrid heart” consists of artificial muscles and sensors and is covered with tissues of the recipient’s body grown in the laboratory. Scientists are confident that in the future, this innovation will save many lives.

In collaboration with the British Heart Foundation, scientists plan to make the first artificial heart transplant in 2028. If everything goes as planned, it will be a real revolution in transplant surgery.

Today, many thousands of people die cause they didn’t get a heart transplant on time. The organ is transplanted from a suddenly deceased person, whose heart is completely healthy, and whose relatives agree to this. The number of people in need of a new organ far exceeds the capabilities of transplant medicine.

“There is a huge shortage in donor organs and in a way that’s good. Every donor organ means that somewhere else, someone young has died”, says Professor Jolanda Kluin from the University of Amsterdam, one of the artificial heart creators. “A hybrid heart could create the first-ever solution for end-stage heart failure”.

An artificial heart works as follows. The source of power for it is electricity. It reaches the heart wirelessly from a nearby power source located in the patient’s clothing. A small battery is implanted into the recipient’s body, which can nourish the heart for an hour. This time is enough to take a shower or swim when the power source is unavailable.

The body’s own tissues will serve as the artificial heart`s outer shell — they will be grown from the recipient’s cells in the laboratory. If this condition is not met, the body will reject the transplanted organ. Covered with the human own tissues, a hybrid heart is perceived by the body as its own.
Scientists have patented their invention and are now testing it on animals.

Previous attempts to develop a robotic heart were made in France, where a 76-year-old man died in 2014, 2.5 months after surgery. The heart was made of polyurethane and covered with tissues grown from the cells of a cow’s heart.

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