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The world's first fully artificial heart, invented by French researchers, is a wonder of modern technology.  (Source: AP)

Heart disease takes 17 million lives yearly. The new implant could save millions of lives.  (Source: AP)

The heart includes electronic sensors that allow it to operate autonomously, adjusting blood flow on the fly. The sensors are based on cutting edge aircraft technology.   (Source: AP)
French invention could help to extend the natural human lifespan

For all the bad news in medicine today -- studies that cell phones might cause cancer, or that widely used flame retardants could have dire effects -- there's also a lot of good news.  Recent studies have moved us closer to curing paralysis with nerve bypasses wired directly into the brain.  And there have been a broad variety of new treatments for cancer devised; many involving nanoparticles.

Now the world's first autonomous artificial heart can be added to that list. 

Heart disease
 worldwide is the world's top killer, ending 17 million lives a year worldwide.  In 2006, a total of 2,200 heart transplants were performed, according to the American Heart Association.  Many others, though, can't get the transplant they need due to a lack of donor hearts.  Their numbers, according to the AHA, are in the thousands, and many of them die due to complications while waiting.

Thankfully, a fix may soon be in sight.  French scientists have
 invented a working prototype of a fully artificial heart.  The heart is based on bleeding edge technology found in satellites and aircraft.  The heart beats nearly like its organic counterpart and operates using similar feedback as well.  It uses electric sensors to monitor and control heart rate and blood flow.

Carmat, the company who developed the device, with funding from the European space and defense group EADS, unveiled the heart at a Paris press conference this week.  The device could save millions -- and its all thanks to modern aerospace technology, according to Carmat's top executives.  Carmat's chief operating officer Patrick Coulombier states, "It's the same principle in the airplane as in the body."

In the past there have been artificial hearts, like the much hyped Jarvik heart, however they were only a temporary fix while awaiting transplant.  The key problem was that they could not adjust their pumping like a biological heart, and could only be adjusted externally.  This limited their usefulness.

The new heart tries its best to model the real thing, and come awfully close.  Tiny pressure and altitude sensors, developed for use in airplanes, feed information about blood flow to the heart.  The device responds almost immediately, with lightening fast decisions to increase or decrease blood flow. 

Past hearts have also only had one pump, but the new heart features two, just like the real heart. It pumps blood to the lungs and then pumps the returning blood to the rest of the body, just like in the real heart.  The new heart is made largely of a combination of polymer and pig tissue, a similar design to modern heart valves, implanted in many people.

The device has been successfully tested on large mammals, and is awaiting permission to begin clinical human trials.  Its makers are very confident that the device will be safe, long-lived, and will open undreamt of possibilities for people with heart disease.  Initially it will be offered to those suffering from a massive heart attack or who had heart failure.  However eventually it could be implanted in people with milder heart problems.

The new heart is expected to retail for about 150,000 euros or $192,140, when it is released -- a pretty reasonable price to save a life.

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look at the size of that thing!!
By Dreifort on 10/31/2008 11:09:12 AM , Rating: 2
well...that's what she said.

I wonder if it comes with a manufacture's warranty?

So now you have choices... pig/animal heart replacement or plastic. Kinda like the grocery asking, "paper or plastic"?

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By Dreifort on 10/31/08, Rating: 0
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 10/31/2008 11:13:36 AM , Rating: 2
The "price" would be much higher since this is a "reasonable price." So this is the low end of the market, I guess.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By DanoruX on 10/31/2008 11:14:20 AM , Rating: 2
More importantly, would health insurance pay for the damn thing?

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By MrBlastman on 10/31/2008 11:41:38 AM , Rating: 2
It depends on what your maximum lifetime out-of-pocket limits are on your coverage. A lot of time it is around 3 million dollars, so as long as you don't exceed that then they should pay out if the policy provides for that sort of operation.

As far as cost is concerned, I really want to see how this works - it could save a lot of people's lives whom need a transplant but are unable to get one. I'm glad to see that the medical community has not given up on trying to create an artificial heart that really works well. I think the next step will be growing hearts with stem cells.

If anything, a device like this will allow those who need a new heart to buy extra time so they can eventually have a real human replacement.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By headbox on 10/31/2008 12:18:21 PM , Rating: 2
considering the huge amounts of deaths per year from heart disease, the usual amount insurance covers will go out the window. $200,000 + installation fee x 200,000 per year = you don't get one.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By geddarkstorm on 10/31/2008 2:13:34 PM , Rating: 2
What in the world are you talking about? Medical insurance doesn't change while you are in the policy no matter what condition hits you, that's the whole point of insurance. Now renewing it at the same cost per month isn't going to happen if you suffer near fatal heart disease suddenly.

Moreover, $200,000 is a reasonable price - I say that because there are a lot of medical treatments and procedures around that and above! Let alone installing a totally and extremely advanced artificial heart. Just visiting the ER for 10 minutes for a penicillin shot will run you over 2k alone! (happened in my personal experience)

Also, where are you getting that ludicrous $200,000 per year figure from?

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By Parhel on 10/31/2008 2:31:47 PM , Rating: 2
Medical insurance doesn't change while you are in the policy no matter what condition hits you, that's the whole point of insurance.

In that case, I need to call my insurance company, because my rates go up every year.

By geddarkstorm on 10/31/2008 2:35:39 PM , Rating: 2
That's because you renew your policy every year, and the price gets recalculated.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By wordsworm on 10/31/2008 9:29:01 PM , Rating: 2
I think it's 200k for the object itself. Add to that installation and maintenance - which isn't specified in the article, and I'm sure we're talking a good chunk of change afterwards.

That being said, no one can sanely trivialize this invention. Surely it's bound to be the most important medical invention of the year.

Perhaps lungs are next?

The question I have to ask, is, do cyborgs have the same rights as humans?

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By ViroMan on 10/31/2008 10:33:38 PM , Rating: 4
The question I have to ask, is, do cyborgs have the same rights as humans?
im sure they do, as long as they have a ghost.

By wordsworm on 11/1/2008 6:32:33 AM , Rating: 3
Said the x-wife to the user of one of those things, "You heartless bastard!"

By chick0n on 11/1/2008 2:20:56 AM , Rating: 1

if u pay 20 grand a year on your health insurance Im sure they will be more than happy to cover it.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By rudolphna on 10/31/2008 1:52:53 PM , Rating: 2
It actually might laster much longer than a transplant of a real heart. The average survival span of a person with a heart transplant is 7 years, I beleive. The problem that arises is that the body rejects the foreign tissue, sending antibodies to attack teh new heart, since it is, to the body, foreign matter. However, this heart would not be affected nearly as much by this process, which people normally have to take medications every day for the rest of their lives for. So in theory, this heart could keep a person alive much longer than a traditional transplant would.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By MrBlastman on 10/31/2008 2:06:48 PM , Rating: 2
True, however the danger with mechanical hearts has always been the destruction of red blood cells and clotting. This heart supposedly addresses the clotting issue that the other mechanical hearts have possessed, but, it has not been tested yet in a human.

I think eventually we will see something of sorts like a heart molded out of a washed mesh of cells which provide the scaffolding of a real heart that stem cells can grow into (as seen in another article), or some other method of growing a heart that has had its genes modified to resemble the host genetic characteristics.

In the meantime, if this is the best we have, then we might as well give it a try and see how it works.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By rudolphna on 10/31/2008 2:13:22 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. I think the best idea by far, however is the idea of "printing hearts" if you saw the discovery channel show )2057" you know what im talking about. Its proven that it works too. Basically what happens, to test theyve taken modified inkjet printers, with cartridges filled with cardiac cells... Now they reprogam it to print of teh same spot several times, and what happens is cardiac tissue gets literally printed, and it contracts like normal tissue does. The future of this would be machines dedicated to printing your heart from your DNA, which thus eliminates ALL problems of clotting and rejection, since it is your own heart.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By Smilin on 10/31/2008 5:40:32 PM , Rating: 5
Yes but the cost of replacing inkjet cartridges is so high that a $200,000 artificial heart would seem a bargain.


RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By DigitalFreak on 11/1/2008 1:11:37 PM , Rating: 5
The printer only costs $39.99

By foolsgambit11 on 11/2/2008 11:12:33 AM , Rating: 3
The first hit's always free....

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By JonnyDough on 11/2/2008 6:37:17 AM , Rating: 1
$3 million insurance coverage? LOL!!! The average American only makes about a million in a LIFETIME. I highly doubt insurance companies can make their oodles of dough by paying on $3,000,000 insurance claims.

By MrBlastman on 11/3/2008 9:43:47 AM , Rating: 3
Laugh all you want Jonny, why don't you look it up? It is called the "Maximum lifetime benefit limit" or something similar.

You'll be suprised how high the number may be. Much of the time it is around an average of one million to three million. Also, insurance companies typically pay out the most money for 5% of their policy holders. The remaining 95% either use a nominal portion of the coverage or very little at all. They balance their expenditures with a complex series of equations, calculations and through risk management.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By 91TTZ on 11/2/2008 10:38:50 AM , Rating: 3
As far as cost is concerned, I really want to see how this works - it could save a lot of people's lives whom need a transplant but are unable to get one

The word you're looking for is "who", not whom.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By MrBlastman on 11/3/2008 9:45:58 AM , Rating: 2
Perhaps you could kindly quote us the grammatical rule to govern this word usage, kind sir.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By 91TTZ on 11/3/2008 2:37:16 PM , Rating: 2
To put it simply, here is how you'd use it compared to another pronoun:

he= who
him= whom

Replace who/whom with he/him in a sentence to see which would fit.

By MrPoletski on 10/31/2008 12:56:18 PM , Rating: 2
very possibly actually, because the care costs of having somebody hanging on to life in hospital for months on end would probably end up comparable.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By Fusible on 10/31/2008 2:04:06 PM , Rating: 1
Who really cares what it cost, if you have mortgage the house to save your childs, fathers, mothers or spouses life you will do anything to keep them alive. Simple fact! a loved ones life has no price.

By GlassHouse69 on 11/2/2008 1:37:39 AM , Rating: 2

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By JasonMick on 10/31/2008 11:16:08 AM , Rating: 2
It was tongue-in-cheek. Obviously you can't put a price on life.

However, if you want to be serious -- the medical industry and insurance companies do exactly that, so I suppose you could take the comment literally too.

By pxavierperez on 10/31/2008 11:27:12 AM , Rating: 3
come on, the price tag is for the service, the product plus the R&D for the technology.

I mean if i would purchase a human just so that i can shoot later or whenever i want, that's putting a price on a person's life literally.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By rikulus on 10/31/2008 11:48:43 AM , Rating: 4
Actually, anybody that doesn't think there is a price on life is kidding themselves, and the sooner people start to realize that the sooner we can make progress on certain issues. Would it really be worth spending $192k (hardware costs alone) to extend the life of a 90 year old person by 6 months? Is that a good investment you'd be willing to pay? Because if health insurance or government pay for that surgery, it's really the rest of us paying. And if it's not worthwhile for that person, who is it worthwhile for? People need to start realizing that this is an important question that should be asked, we can't just keep saying "life has infinite value."

I'll give a specific example of where life is given a price... highway guard rails. Sometimes there is no guard rail, sometimes there is but nothing protecting the end of it, sometimes barrels, sometimes a cheap crash absorber that needs to be replaced after every crash, sometimes a good crash absorber that resets itself automatically. Who decides? The civil engineer, and it is entirely based upon the price tag assigned to a person's death (and they actually use a number) and the number of crashes expected. These decisions are made all the time.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By diego10arg on 10/31/2008 12:15:48 PM , Rating: 3
As far as I know, before performing a transplant they check whether if you deserve it or not, based on the rest of your health. That means that if your heart is not the only part compromised, then you have less chances than others. Maybe some of this can apply for this piece of hardware.

IMO, I would not like to get a new heart after 75 years, depending on how the rest of my body is.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By AFMatt on 11/1/2008 12:50:30 PM , Rating: 2
I see your point, but I believe in the case of artificial organs it would merely be a case of whether or not they could afford it. Now, if you don't have the money, I dont believe insurance would buy off on it.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By MrBlastman on 10/31/2008 12:17:40 PM , Rating: 3
While I understand your argument, perhaps you should place the judgement call on the shoulders of the people who need the device.

I think it is up to them, whose lives are on the line, to be the real focus group on weather it is worth it or not.

Also, not everyone that needs a heart transplant is 90 years old - many times it is people whom are much younger - in their 30's and 40's who not due to bad health habits of their own but rather genetic problems, are facing surgery as their only option to extend their lives.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By Lord 666 on 10/31/2008 12:47:59 PM , Rating: 2
A childhood friend of mine passed away in his teens from congenital heart issues.

His family would have given/done anything to further extend his life... As most other families would as well.

This device also reminds me of one of the bad guys in Hellboy with the windup heart.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By rikulus on 10/31/2008 1:28:25 PM , Rating: 2
I certainly wasn't trying to suggest that nobody should get a transplant with this artificial heart covered by healthcare in whatever form. I was just trying to give an example of a person I thought everyone would agree wouldn't be a smart candidate, but apparently wasn't extreme enough (maybe I should have said it was a 90 year old person who was in prison for murder and once had an abortion or something.) That was just to demonstrate that their is a price tag on a person's life. Your example sounds like the opposite end of the spectrum, a person that I (and I'd hope anyone) would agree deserves such an operation. Someplace in the middle there is a tipping point... people should realize that and not be afraid to discuss it.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By geddarkstorm on 10/31/2008 2:22:56 PM , Rating: 2
I completely disagree with you. We are consumers, if we can spend the money on something, we do. Be it food, entertainment, or medicine. It has nothing do with the intrinsic value of a human life and only what you are willing to give up and pay in exchange for extending that life. Those factors will be different for every situation, personality, and personalities/relationships of loved ones to decide. There is /no/ intrinsic value on the life, only what value is willing to be given on the device: the value of its construction and service and use.

Someone who makes millions a year would find this pocket change - but simply may just want to die and not get it. Someone like me would find this impossible to finance, no matter how much I wanted it for a loved one.

This is a /consumer/ tech. Anyone with the funds can get it, including that 90 year old in prison for murder who also had an abortion, kicked 60 puppies into a fire, and was a habitual stealer of children's lollipops, could get it, and it'd be perfectly fine.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By ZmaxDP on 10/31/2008 3:56:28 PM , Rating: 2
Here's the problem, we aren't true consumers of healthcare. (Well, 40% of the US population is because they don't have insurance, the other 60% doesn't ever pay full price for medicine or services.)

It would be like purchasing a gas plan. You pay 100 dollars a week for gas no matter your usage, plus a small 2 cent per gallon co-pay. So, if you have a bad week where you drive 3,000 miles you're only paying a fraction of the actual costs of your gas. However, for the next four months where you're only driving 100 miles a week, you're paying way more. The Gas Plan company only makes money if they average your usage correctly so that you end up paying slightly more over time than you actually consume. Unfortunately for them, you're a family trip-a-holic. So, you're blowing their plan. Fortunately for them there are a thousand other people who aren't.

In this scenario you are not a consumer. The only people who have to pay "market value" for this thing are those who lack insurance. For the rest of us, this only costs 3000 dollars or whatever our limit is on our plan. After that it is covered by our insurance if we need it, which really means it is covered by several thousand other people who don't need it and are overpaying slightly. This isn't a computer, you're not going to mod it (hopefully), and it isn't tech.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By geddarkstorm on 10/31/2008 5:31:06 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree with your analysis completely. Insurance is another consumer product. We choose from multiple insurance plans, based on total coverage, the co pay, the deductible, the monthly cost, the provider, and the network the provider allows. These are private companies, not the government (for people who aren't below poverty, though that may well change and everyone may be put under universal government health care in the future). That means there is no "redistribution of wealth" going on - /you/ bought the product, and the product is priced so the company can gain a profit, just like with /any other good/. You buy insurance based on what you an afford and want, and you will pay the premium along with anyone else who buys that insurance - their rates do not go up because you suddenly have a ton of health problems: your issues do not affect them and vice versa, unless you somehow drag the company's margin down that much that it has to rake up prices to compensate, which is a scenario that can't really happen because they put yearly limits on costs to avoid such a fate. This is no different from car insurance, or house insurance, or mail insurance, or what have you. NO one is burdened by /you/, though you'll pay a LOT more monthly once your policy has to be renewed.

Trying to say we aren't a consumer buying this medical product because we have insurance is both right and wrong. We bought the insurance, that's our product, and that product allows us to purchase, apparently free or with a minimal deductible/co-pay this other product. But in the end, we still bought the medical product via the money we've invested in our insurance product. It may be sort of indirect and circumspect, but it is consumption NO LESS than if we had to buy the product straight. That's why health insurance is such a good product to purchase.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By foolsgambit11 on 11/2/2008 12:46:15 PM , Rating: 2
NO one is burdened by /you/
Come on. That's just patently false. If you are in a group plan, and you cost the insurer more than the average, then you are increasing the average costs for everyone else in your group (subject to some regulatory restrictions).
That means there is no "redistribution of wealth" going on
Well, not to get too nit-picky, but there is a 'redistribution of wealth' going on. It's just that instead of being redistributed to those who need it, it's redistributed to the insurance companies, who are like the house in Vegas - in the long run, they always win. Not only that, but many of the people who you are probably worried would get benefits in a nationalized 'redistribution of wealth' health care program are already covered by national health care now. The redistribution already exists.

I think most people don't think of the health insurance industry as a consumer market because they don't want to think of health as a business. They want to think of it as a public service, much like sewage, garbage, or power. Unfortunately, the reality of America's health care system is different, as you tried to explain, although I disagree with your explanation on certain points.

We seem to disagree about the balance of individual responsibility and social responsibility, and your individualistic bias is clear in your explanation. But your basic premise, that health insurance is to some degree a consumer product, is accurate. Although to what degree, we disagree. And whether it's a good or a bad thing to have the free market in health care. We probably disagree there, too. But back to the facts. Insurance is a consumer product for some, but for many, they have limited or no choice in their provider when it comes to employer-provided health care. (They could go on the individual market, but they aren't going to get higher wages for not taking the employer's plan, so that's a false choice, really.) What is more, a quarter of the U.S. population currently gets health care from the government through Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, &c. You're already paying for their coverage. That is, we're already paying for insurance for a quarter of the population. And it's pretty much the most expensive quarter at that. We have a system with all of the disadvantages of group health care but, for 75% of us, none of the benefits. Literally no benefits from a health care system we are paying for. And, since it's unrealistic to throw millions of poor, soldiers, and elderly out in the cold with no insurance, instead of fixing that unfairness by shutting these programs down, we should expand it to include me. Although that seems a little unrealistic in the current political climate right now, too, and neither candidate is suggesting it.

By BansheeX on 11/2/2008 10:47:52 PM , Rating: 2
Insurance companies calculate different costs per person based on pre-existing conditions, habits like smoking, etc. And if you lie about those and they find out, they can deny you coverage. The heart of the model is a flare of redistribution, because everyone is going in with a shared risk of catastrophe that will come to pass for certain people more than others.

The difference is that there are competing models that assure gouging can't take place. That it's getting more expensive isn't a result of the free market. It's a result of other socialist policies like inflationary currency that holds spendthrift politicians to no discipline or limit when it comes to debasing its people's money. You can't solve the problems of inflation with bigger government, it's insanity. I believe government also bars competition in the field by requiring a great deal of licensure and barring nurses from offering their services for less. The medical industry is just as protectionist and lobby-prone as any, government's collusion with these industries is a big problem for the consumer. The regulator of the regulators (us) have fallen asleep, we keep electing retards on both sides who talk out of their ass. The ones who want to shrink government and cripple its ability to interfere with choice and debase money are ignored.

Government only health care would inherently be a monopoly, and the financing of it would likely be forced from birth like SS, meaning no fear of bankruptcy from consumers choosing another insurer or opting out entirely. That type of business model would degenerate very quickly.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By SlyNine on 10/31/2008 5:46:35 PM , Rating: 2
Sad thing is, The guy or gal on death row will probably be one of the first in line for this new heart should they need it.

They give sex changes to prisoners paid for by the government. So I guess if you need a new heart, do something that gives you a prison sentence.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By 91TTZ on 11/2/2008 4:37:06 PM , Rating: 2
Also, not everyone that needs a heart transplant is 90 years old - many times it is people whom are much younger

Again, it is "who" not "whom" in this case.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By pauldovi on 10/31/08, Rating: -1
RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By BadAcid on 10/31/2008 12:51:18 PM , Rating: 5
What? Yeah, Republicans never did or said any of those things...

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By TheDoc9 on 10/31/2008 12:37:12 PM , Rating: 1
apples and oranges my friend. How important will it be when you're the 90 year old laying in bed and your young heart surgeon walks in and tells you that it's just not economical to save your life. "Here's some drugs, good luck."

In any case, these decisions are made all the time, esp. with government welfare. This is why poor people on medicaid are given a life time of drugs instead of a 100k one time operation that a wealthy or insured worker would get.

The truth is, what most people never comprehend until they're on THEIR death bed, is that there really is no price on human life that's to large. I certainly wouldn't want someone like you in charge of anything important.

By Master Kenobi on 10/31/2008 3:36:10 PM , Rating: 3
Realistically there is a price on life. When I'm dieing from whatever malady I'm sure I will find out in my case exactly what that dollar figure is too. You just need to learn to accept this.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By Ringold on 10/31/2008 4:21:55 PM , Rating: 2
The truth is, what most people never comprehend until they're on THEIR death bed, is that there really is no price on human life that's to large. I certainly wouldn't want someone like you in charge of anything important.

That's a cute sentiment, but somewhere between you and other guy is reality. We can not afford to spend vast sums of money on extending peoples life to the point where we could find ourselves blowing, in the last years of a persons life, as much money as their entire productive lifetimes may have produced. Environmentalists talk about "sustainable" business practices... that would be wildly unsustainable.

You'd better get used to medical rationing. It looks like socialized medicine in America is inevitable, and while politicians talk about a myriad ways of negotiating down prices with providers, there is really only one way: rationing. That's how they do it in England and Canada. Everything has a price, whether it's comforting to think about or not.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By TheDoc9 on 10/31/2008 5:22:52 PM , Rating: 2
That's a cute sentiment, but somewhere between you and other guy is reality.

Obviously proving that if you don't want your life in the hands of someone who could care less and looks at raw number all day, then you'd better take care of yourself and find ways to make money and lots of it. Suddenly you won't have to worry about rationing or other people opinions about your life.

I do agree about the further socialism of health care, it's just too bad.

By GlassHouse69 on 11/2/2008 1:41:57 AM , Rating: 1
people fucking die. get over it.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By geddarkstorm on 10/31/2008 5:38:54 PM , Rating: 2
What is this "we" you talk about? You're right, if we are in socialized medicine, then WE pay for the costs of anyone who is sick. Otherwise, that person pays their own costs, be it through the insurance they bought or directly. That means, as long as health care is private, there is no "we", and so there is no dilemma or "cost of human life" - only what the individual can afford for treatment, no more or less.

But, once you socialize things.. that just blows the entire scheme out of the water, and you're completely right that you'd have to start rationing medical care at that point, and human life will have a definite price limit imposed on it by the state, not necessarily what the person alone could place. I guess we'll see. If the state won't cover it, you can always pay more, maybe.. Whatever it is capital hill decides to dictate to us in the end.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By Ringold on 10/31/2008 11:09:32 PM , Rating: 2
What is this "we" you talk about? You're right, if we are in socialized medicine, then WE pay for the costs of anyone who is sick. Otherwise, that person pays their own costs, be it through the insurance they bought or directly. That means, as long as health care is private, there is no "we", and so there is no dilemma or "cost of human life" - only what the individual can afford for treatment, no more or less.

Completely agree! I was thinking more under the situation where it's on government coin.

By foolsgambit11 on 11/2/2008 12:08:10 PM , Rating: 2
Hmm.... Maybe you aren't familiar with the minutiae of the American health care system. We currently provide health care for about 25% of the population through government-sponsored programs. You are paying for the health insurance of the old and the poor. (Interestingly enough, the old and the poor statistically cost the most in medical expenses. Adding the rest of the country would lower average costs per person in these programs - before figuring in advantages in leverage, collective bargaining, reductions in administrative costs for health care providers, &c, &c, &c... But that's neither here nor there in this discussion.)

So, in one way, you're right, there's no "we". I mean, there is a "we", but you and I aren't included (I assume from your comments). Still, there's no reason you couldn't have a national health care system and a private health care system. Everybody could take advantage of the national health care system to ensure a basic level of care is available to everybody. Those who want to (and have the means) could purchase supplemental insurance, or they could pay private medical practices directly for procedures they wanted. After all, I don't imagine a national health care system covering cosmetic surgery, &c.

This system has, essentially, a price limit imposed by the state (although the way it's measured would be difficult to decipher, since there obviously won't be a statute for calculating a cost-benefit analysis for treatment). That much is true. But instead of looking at the limit as the maximum value of human life, we would see it as the minimum value of human life. That means that we would all agree that there is a certain inherent value to human life. For those who feel their life is worth more, they can pay more. Everybody wins.

I've tried to avoid arguments of cost because you didn't bring them up. But the fact is that providing basic preventive care medicine to all for free would reduce overall health costs dramatically, especially for those people whose health care costs you are already paying anyway.

And now that I've tried to appeal to your human side, I'll go ahead and chip away at the logic of your argument. The whole point of health insurance is to prevent yourself from having to pay for treatment. It's risk distribution. Assume health care costs $2500 a year (that's the credit an individual would get under McCain's plan, so I'll go for that number). $2,500/year * 80 years = $200,000. That means that paying for health insurance for your whole life is the same cost as one of these new artificial hearts. We pay for insurance so that, when it comes time to weigh how much we're worth, we don't actually have to. If you are given the choice - pay $X and you may live, don't pay and you will die - for some value of X, you'll have no choice but to die. But if you only have to cover a fraction of the costs, many more procedures will get done. The point of insurance (national, corporate, or individual) is to divorce issues of price from issues of health. The advantage we should get is an increase in preventive care, leading to reduced overall health costs. But perversely, the current system doesn't work very well in that respect - it rewards doctors for doing the most expensive thing they can get away with. Essentially, there is nobody holding down costs because there are no price pressures on doctors or patients. National health care systems in other countries have worked much better at holding down costs. Of course, eliminating insurance altogether would probably optimize prices, but I don't think anybody's suggesting that as a realistic option, because there is more to the puzzle than just cost.

It is possible McCain's plan could push down costs some by opening up the health care field to capitalism more, but while providing some protections to people from the rigors of the real free market. Unfortunately, it seems that many, especially those who need it most, would lose their health care coverage under this plan. People who come into emergency rooms with life-threatening conditions must be treated under federal law. If they don't have insurance, the hospital ends up having to pass those costs on to other patients in the form of higher procedural and administrative costs. We can fairly assume these pressures have a good chance of placing upward pressure on health care costs. Whether they would cancel out the 'free-market' reductions would have to be seen. Obama's plan would also help push down costs, partly by ensuring coverage of all children - promoting better preventive care in the most crucial part of life, partly by directly targeting cost-saving measures. But it does put additional mandates on businesses, and it is unclear exactly what the long term effects will be regarding administrative costs added to small businesses, the extent of exemptions, failure to comply penalties being passed on to workers in the form of depressed wages, etc.

I've tried to be fair in my assessment of the two major candidates' plans. It just depends on your world view and moral code as to which plan you prefer, if either. I personally think providing basic health care for all is a moral imperative. But neither candidate does this, which leaves me having to decide on other issues.

I'm sorry, I've lost track of my train of thought.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 10/31/2008 11:52:47 AM , Rating: 2
I know you can not put a price on human life.... However, I just can not help but think about the fact I paid about the same amount for my 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath, full basement, family, dinning room and kitchen, fireplace and attached garage.
So, if I pop one of these into my body, and I die, does my body dead become more valuable then my house? Is there going to a be used market for these?

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By Spivonious on 10/31/2008 11:56:18 AM , Rating: 2
Ooh, that brings up another question. Can I take a mortgage out on my heart?

By Dreifort on 10/31/2008 11:57:23 AM , Rating: 2
no. unless the government bails you out, then you get a no-interest/higher-tax loan.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By jRaskell on 10/31/2008 12:20:45 PM , Rating: 2
Only if you're willing to accept the possibility of foreclosure and repossession.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By Spivonious on 10/31/2008 12:31:49 PM , Rating: 4
But if it's foreclosed upon, the government will give me a better loan that I can really afford! What's my motivation for paying my mortgage?

By Seemonkeyscanfly on 10/31/2008 2:05:49 PM , Rating: 2
builders lien on the property. They might not be as nice as the government. :)

By DeuceHalo on 10/31/2008 12:19:00 PM , Rating: 2
You forgot labor and dealer prep charges. ;)

By marvdmartian on 10/31/2008 12:29:40 PM , Rating: 2
Not only that, but looking at the first two pictures, I thought it looked like either a halloween mask or a gas mask!! ;)

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By Jcfili on 10/31/2008 1:15:23 PM , Rating: 2
OMG ! not even selling all my organs I can afford that heart
I wonders who's going to get one of those !!

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By geddarkstorm on 10/31/2008 2:26:52 PM , Rating: 2
People with health insurance : P. I only pay 75 some bucks a month for my insurance which covers up to 3 million dollars in costs per year.

By Master Kenobi on 10/31/2008 3:37:39 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds about like mine. The nice things about white collar jobs.

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By surt on 10/31/2008 6:19:15 PM , Rating: 2
That would be unusual, are you sure you aren't covered for 3mil lifetime?

RE: look at the size of that thing!!
By Samus on 10/31/2008 3:46:05 PM , Rating: 2
Warranty is irrelevent. Do aircraft come with a warranty? Do guns come with a warranty? Do medications come with a warranty? If built right, which it will be, there is no need for a warranty. There is only one way this thing, or the afformentioned things, can succeed.


If one ever fails and somebody dies (which they will because it probably can't be repaired in time and can't be resussitated like a organic heart) it will be its doom.

If built correctly and quality control is top notch, they won't have to worry about failure on their end. It's like a CPU. Test it before it goes out the door and it'll last forever if installed and cooled properly.

By Pavelyoung on 11/2/2008 12:14:02 PM , Rating: 2
It doesn't matter, there are several research labs that are starting to grow human organs in labs using the hosts own cells. Those organs when they are complete can be transplanted into the patient without the need for anti rejection medication.

This year they have done 7 bladder transplants using laboratory grown bladders. They expect to have the first kidney ready for transplant sometime next year and the first heart the year after that.

Once those transplants have been done and its shown that there are no adverse effects. The FDA should then allow for wide spread use of laboratory grown organs.

What does it all mean? It means that a few years from now, old people will be able to have a completely new set of organs grown to replace their aging organs. It should extend their life but its way to early for us to know by how much.

I am personally looking forward to the day that there are no more people waiting for a transplant. No longer will we have to worry about little kids that need a kidney or cry over a child that died due to a defective heart.

How does the thing get power?
By DanoruX on 10/31/2008 11:06:44 AM , Rating: 2
Not to mention the fact that the thing is really huge...

RE: How does the thing get power?
By Phlargo on 10/31/08, Rating: -1
RE: How does the thing get power?
By pxavierperez on 10/31/2008 11:20:39 AM , Rating: 2
it has a "electric sensors to monitor". I wonder if there was an external device the patient carries that acts as a battery of some sort. I'm sure this artificial heart it's not something you transplant surgically and forget about it.

Is that Picard on top? Why is he wearing the old Federation uniform? what episode was it?

RE: How does the thing get power?
By acer905 on 10/31/2008 11:25:20 AM , Rating: 3
The episode is Tapestry, i believe, one where he "dies" because of his artificial heart and Q allows him to go back in time, and change the even that led him to need it.

RE: How does the thing get power?
By BadAcid on 10/31/2008 12:03:04 PM , Rating: 2
I would have thought a Robocop reference picture would be the more obvious choice. :)

RE: How does the thing get power?
By johnsonx on 10/31/2008 12:05:35 PM , Rating: 5
You are correct sir. Great episode. It's hard to see in the little thumbnail, but that's a long knife sticking out of Picard's chest which was recently thrust into his back by a Nausicaan. Somewhere in the middle of season 6 if I recall correctly.

RE: How does the thing get power?
By acer905 on 10/31/2008 9:31:56 PM , Rating: 2
And thats why you just gotta love Nausicaans. Whats interesting is what happens when the first alien race humanity meets just happens to be a bunch of Nausicaans instead of Vulcans. (read the first book of the "Lost Era" series for more info)

RE: How does the thing get power?
By Dreifort on 10/31/2008 12:32:43 PM , Rating: 3

Capt. Kirk just wants you to know, he would never allow such imperial devices to be put into his body.

RE: How does the thing get power?
By quiksilvr on 10/31/2008 11:18:32 AM , Rating: 1
Its the constant flow of the blood that keeps it going. However, this seems as susceptible to the same issues a pacemaker will have:
1) Routine checkups to make sure it is functioning properly
2) No intense activity (sports, sex, etc.) that could overload the heart.
3) Don't be close to magnetic fields.
4) Hacking.

There is still a long way to go before this can be implemented as a viable heart transplant but it is definitely an amazing medical breakthrough.

RE: How does the thing get power?
By FreeTard on 10/31/2008 11:40:50 AM , Rating: 4
Blood doesn't seem like it would be good for liquid cooling, so probably doesn't overclock that well.

RE: How does the thing get power?
By rudolphna on 10/31/2008 1:56:49 PM , Rating: 2
I lol'ed

RE: How does the thing get power?
By NEOCortex on 10/31/2008 11:54:25 AM , Rating: 3
What you just suggested is a perpetual motion system, which is physically impossible.

It IS going to need a power source, probably something external. The real heart gets power from the nutrients in the blood, and pumping signals from the brain, but the artificial one will do neither.

In fact, I'd bet that blue cable in the picture is the power line for the heart.

RE: How does the thing get power?
By Dreifort on 10/31/2008 12:36:32 PM , Rating: 2
isn't the blue cable an ethernet cable? for connecting to the internet. firware updates, etc.

also, no need to look at porn anymore, just connect to the internet (via blue cable) search for porn and feel the joy emotionally.

A New Page in Human/Cyborg Relations!
By Phlargo on 10/31/2008 11:07:27 AM , Rating: 2
It's really wonderful to see technology implemented in such a user-friendly (and life saving fashion) - hopefully the economy of scale will bring the price down over time so that maybe one day, death by heart disease will be a thing of the past.

I'm not saying we couldn't make some serious lifestyle choices that would vastly reduce the number of cases of heart disease that mandated transplant, but this thing is a perfect example of how humans operate - use our brains and technology to avoid behavior change. Hard to call that lazy...

RE: A New Page in Human/Cyborg Relations!
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 10/31/2008 11:12:35 AM , Rating: 2
Interesting footnote, however. If we got an artifical heart, and didn't change our lifestyle, could a high fat diet, as an example, damage the sensors or valves in some way, leading to artificial heart disease/malfunction?

By danrien on 10/31/2008 11:20:08 AM , Rating: 2

By Dreifort on 10/31/2008 11:28:32 AM , Rating: 2
did you notice the screws bolting the pieces together in the pics of the artifical heart?

does this require a monthly, possibly weekly, digestion of a WD40 pill?

While protecting you from heart attacks, will this heart cause aneurysms? Pumping too much blood when your heart rate soars? hmmmmm.

By The0ne on 10/31/2008 11:35:34 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe a pic from Bicentennial Man would be more appropriate :) Those organs look great in the movie!

RE: Pic?
By Raidin on 10/31/2008 3:29:03 PM , Rating: 2
The picture they used has a double-meaning, that's why it's so appropriate.

Jean-Luc Picard is French, and also has an artificial heart. The scene depicted by the picture is when he receives the injury that forces him to get one.

RE: Pic?
By foolsgambit11 on 11/2/2008 1:00:20 PM , Rating: 2
That's the same scene where Darth Vader tells him he is his father, right?

Damn. I'm always getting The Star Wars and The Star Trek confused. Which of the two is the one where they renew on Carousel?

But seriously, I always loved how Jean-Luc was the most British Frenchman ever. Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. Really? Apparently some time before the 24th Century, while English is becoming the language of Earth, and absolutely no music is being played (that's why they only play classical and dixieland jazz in the future), tectonic shifts must have pushed Great Britain into France, where it was subsumed into the country, while the Saxons retained their distinctly English flavor.

And why are all the other computers on the ship able to parse complex commands and requests , but the replicators won't understand "hot Earl Grey tea"?

first total artificial hart ?
By Entropy78 on 10/31/2008 11:51:56 AM , Rating: 2
This is definitely not the first in its kind. In 2001 or so, a company called AbioMed showed the 'Abiocor', which is similar to this one, including wireless energy transfer through the skin, external batteries and adjustable flow rate according to the patient needs.

RE: first total artificial hart ?
By Dreifort on 10/31/2008 12:29:00 PM , Rating: 2
wireless energy transfer? what was the cancer rate of those guinea pigs?

By bobsmith1492 on 10/31/2008 3:01:36 PM , Rating: 2
Completely not related...

By mherlund on 10/31/2008 12:05:02 PM , Rating: 2
Does that thing come with a USB port?

By Dreifort on 10/31/2008 12:26:59 PM , Rating: 3
yes it does. but it says "Service" on it and is to be only used by authorized technicans... for firmware updates.

The next artificial tech advancement...
By DeuceHalo on 10/31/2008 11:55:51 AM , Rating: 2
Now they need to invent an artificial brain. After watching a few videos on youtube and reading some internet forums, it's apparent that demand would be high! :)

By DanoruX on 10/31/2008 1:00:37 PM , Rating: 2
In a more serious context, it would open up a whole new world in terms of life extension... and possible crimes ala Ghost in the Shell...

By RjBass on 10/31/2008 12:56:57 PM , Rating: 2
Thankfully, a fix may soon be in site. French scientists have invented a working prototype of a fully artificial heart. The heart is based on bleeding edge technology found in satellites and aircraft.

Ba dump dump

RE: Funny
By PrinceGaz on 10/31/2008 9:04:53 PM , Rating: 2
Hehe, I found the "bleeding edge technology" bit funny. Let's hope it isn't actually "bleeding" edge in that sense or it rather defeats the object of it.

Yes but..........
By JAB on 10/31/2008 1:01:42 PM , Rating: 2
It is great they have a prototype for testing but what have they done for clotting problems or platelet and RBC destruction? Unless they solve these problems devices like these are going to have very limited real world use outside of research. A small amount of foreign tissue is OK for the valves but replace the entire heard and the body is going to have some serious difficulty keeping up with platelet and RBC destruction.
For the vast majority of viable candidates a IABP or cardiac assist device is going to have far less risk and maintain cardiac output to bridge to a heart transplant if needed.

RE: Yes but..........
By tcsenter on 11/4/2008 7:36:31 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, artificial hearts are so 1980's. They continue to discover cases where a patient's heart disease was unexpectedly reversed, and/or the previous pathology unexpectedly arrested, to substantial prognosis-changing degree after having a cardiac assist device implanted for several months to over one year.

Of course, many types and extents of heart damage or pathology are still considered irreversible or intractable, even if cardiac assist devices are shown to have promise for others, nor will all patients be candidates for such a device. But there is much more to discover about who might benefit, where the window of opportunity exists, and how other therapies could be combined with cardiac assist devices, such as valve replacement or revascularization techniques.

The future is giving your heart a break for several months while stimulating the body to restore 80% ~ 90% normal function. Artificial hearts = yawn.

power source?
By ZivNYC on 10/31/2008 3:12:39 PM , Rating: 2's great as long as it doesn't have a SONY exploding battery powering it

RE: power source?
By Master Kenobi on 10/31/2008 4:00:39 PM , Rating: 2
Given the other news posted today, I find your comment spot on. /hats off

By croc on 11/1/2008 1:24:57 AM , Rating: 2
I seldom have an issue with your posts...

But this one is so slanted towards the US point of view that I think I need to respond.

I don't think the AHA keeps stats on Australia, NZ, EU, India, China, etc. Can you see the average Indian, Chinese, whoever, being able to afford 150k EU$? So this marvelous invention is not really going to make a difference to other than the very well off, or the very well insured, is it? So what does this invention matter in the overall scheme of things... This is not an idea that Fred Hollows would approve of. And at this cost I don't see the AUS PBS putting it on their approved list.

RE: US-centric...
By FishTankX on 11/1/2008 5:29:05 AM , Rating: 2
Don't worry. It will be affordable to the masses once China manages to get it's hands on one and reverse engineer it to keep their leadership alive. Then sell copies on the black market.

Cyborgs ?
By ZoZo on 10/31/2008 11:53:08 AM , Rating: 3
Sorry for the cheesy word, but this is kind of the first (small) step to becoming half man - half machine.
I say small because the really big step would be to find a way to either power the brain without blood or create blood from artificial organs.

By nafhan on 10/31/2008 1:03:03 PM , Rating: 3
Does this thing look like WALL-E to anyone else?

No!!, Jean-Luc
By Operandi on 10/31/2008 11:14:43 AM , Rating: 2
Man, that picture is worth $192,000. Nice find.

kinda looks like...
By acejj26 on 10/31/2008 11:36:39 AM , Rating: 2
a Furby

By KeithP on 10/31/2008 2:21:59 PM , Rating: 2
Thankfully, a fix may soon be in site .

Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe you meant "sight."


How about kidneys?
By rollakid on 10/31/2008 7:27:07 PM , Rating: 2
I've lost love ones due to kidney failures, but not heart failures. I'm wondering if replaceable artificial kidneys would be available.

Yeah I know you can get a donation somewhere, but they are not always available...

Master of redundancy
By neothe0ne on 11/1/2008 1:18:53 AM , Rating: 2
Heart disease world wide is the world 's top killer, ending 17 million lives a year world wide.

We maybe got the point.

insurance wouldn't cover it
By Guttersnipe on 11/1/2008 2:29:55 AM , Rating: 2
its just too expensive and basically almost everyone would eventually need one.

national health services do not pay for things that cost too much. they ration care to provide the greatest good for the most people possible.

By FaceMaster on 11/1/2008 10:41:51 AM , Rating: 2
Well, there's a first time for everything, I guess

By Comdrpopnfresh on 11/1/2008 4:14:12 PM , Rating: 2
Did they then put the large animals on a high sodium, trans-fat, saturated fat, sugar, carbohydrate, and low exercise regiment? No? Then how in the hell do those trials provide insight into performance in humans?

By The Paranoid Android on 11/1/2008 6:13:51 PM , Rating: 2
If this thing is supposed to be permanent, it needs a long term source of power. What was it got, a plutonium RTG? That would kill you faster than a diseased heart. I assume it must have some kind of external battery pack you'd have to carry around, which would really suck, but at least you're still alive.

By MADOGRE on 11/1/2008 6:41:27 PM , Rating: 2
so, what if your making payment and you die?
will they come take it out before you go in the box?
can your family resell it, to help with costs after your gone?
I bet its like a car once you drive it off the lot, the price drops by 50%.

By Etern205 on 11/1/2008 10:50:39 PM , Rating: 2
Duracell "Trusted EveryWhere" >:3

By MRsnufalufagus on 11/2/2008 2:20:03 AM , Rating: 2
Fat asses of the world have a new safety net. You thought walking around the Mall of America was already a tour of the secret elephant burial grounds, you ain't seen nuthin' yet.

Get ready for your boner to be permanently put to sleep. Now that heart disease can be eradicated, why not have another donut? Put it on your schlong, because it is the tightest hole your obese ass will ever feel.

By JonnyDough on 11/2/2008 6:34:09 AM , Rating: 2
I'm a bit tired of medicine being workarounds. When will we start to understand CAUSES of these problems? I don't really see them as problems at all though, if we all start living forever the world will get even more overcrowded all that much more quickly. It's bad enough that we're causing extinctions left and right. And to all you non-hippies that would argue that it isn't happening, get a CLUE. WE are causing it!

By alohacarrie on 11/2/2008 1:21:27 PM , Rating: 2
Like you said heart disease is still the biggest killer in the western world, and our diet is spreading to the rest of the world, causing even more heart disease.

They tell us the answer to heart disease is diet and lifestyle changes, but what exactly does that mean.

Getting a new heart is not an ideal way to have to deal with heart disease. Hopefully this is a wake up call to DO something before you are faced with the same fate.

Education is your best defense! Join the discussion at Heart Failure Solutions, and find out what you need to know today!

Not sure I'd want it
By FITCamaro on 10/31/08, Rating: -1
RE: Not sure I'd want it
By BadAcid on 10/31/2008 1:39:23 PM , Rating: 5
2002 called, they want their sentiments back.

RE: Not sure I'd want it
By FITCamaro on 10/31/2008 4:19:21 PM , Rating: 2
Humor called. It wants to murder you for trying to suffocate it.

RE: Not sure I'd want it
By icanhascpu on 10/31/2008 7:10:38 PM , Rating: 2
Was that before or after you murdered it?

RE: Not sure I'd want it
By foolsgambit11 on 11/2/2008 12:09:31 PM , Rating: 2
Suffocation called. It said this joke is played out.

RE: Not sure I'd want it
By CloudFire on 10/31/2008 3:12:26 PM , Rating: 2
LOL i knew there would be a french joke somewhere in the replies, found it now.

RE: Not sure I'd want it
By m1ldslide1 on 10/31/2008 4:47:27 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, it's a *special* kind of person whose first impulse in response to a breakthrough like this is xenophobic ignorance. Pathetic.

RE: Not sure I'd want it
By rudolphna on 10/31/2008 5:43:31 PM , Rating: 2
jesus its a joke. he posted a much more relevant comment above if your not too lazy.

RE: Not sure I'd want it
By FITCamaro on 11/1/2008 2:36:46 AM , Rating: 2
No I didn't. That was one of those idiots who pose as me with similar names.

Obviously I'm all for new ways of keeping the extremely wealthy alive and kicking. Who else is Obama going to tax?

But seriously people. Take the joke for what it is. A joke. You can laugh or you can get pissed off. Personally, I'd rather laugh 99.99% of the time.

RE: Not sure I'd want it
By surt on 10/31/2008 6:23:18 PM , Rating: 1
It may be xenophobic, but it isn't ignorance since it's xenophobia based on well documented historical events.

RE: Not sure I'd want it
By on 11/1/2008 2:10:58 AM , Rating: 2
Haha! Spot on brother! Silly french and their frog's legs!

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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