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September 2012: ReinHeart – A Technical Alternative to Heart Transplantation

Thursday, September 27, 2012

September 2012: ReinHeart – A Technical Alternative to Heart Transplantation

According to a 2011 World Health Organization report, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death and disability. For some patients, the last resort for end-stage heart failure is transplantation. Due to a deficit in donor organs, the average waiting time exceeds one year.

The ReinHeart total artificial heart (TAH) device may provide a technical alternative to heart transplants. Compared to current TAH devices, ReinHeart is designed to be fully implanted into the patient’s chest and to last longer without external equipment, thus providing the patient with increased mobility and quality of life. Developed at the Institute of Applied Medical Engineering, an institute of the RWTH Aachen University, ReinHeart is built to replace the human heart.

It consists of three main components: two diaphragm pump chambers with inlet and outlet valves, and the drive unit. The inlets of the pump chambers are connected to the natural atria, the upper two heart chambers, while the outlets are connected to the aorta and the pulmonary artery. The drive unit is a specially developed direct linear, battery-fueled motor which provides a significant increase in durability. The ReinHeart development project is funded by the European Union, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (grant id: 005-GW01-206B) and the Erich and Hanna Klessmann Foundation. Clinical studies are expected in 2015.

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