Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

The work of these new body builders is far different from the efforts that produced artificial hearts decades ago. Those devices, which are still used temporarily by some patients awaiting transplants, are sophisticated machines, but in the end they are only that: machines.

What's wrong with those machines? They're off-the-shelf machines that can be manufactured in large number as necessary and they're subjects to engineering improvement over time.

They have no immune system. Infection can get started anywhere on/within them, fester. They fuse imperfectly with your body tissue, can shift and tear connections. They perform only the single pumping function of your heart, which has several other functions.

Human heart itself is a machine built by evolution. So of course there is nothing wrong with the idea of using machine as a replacement for the human heart. The author is trying to imply 'artificial mechanical machines' compare to 'biological machines'.

There are certain disadvantages to artificial mechanical machines.

1. Body's rejection to metals/plastic made objects. Patients who use those devices must take medicines to suppress their immune system to keep those machines functioning inside their bodies.

2. Mechanical machines are also very expensive because they are built rather than 'grown'.

3. They have moving parts which make them less reliable.

4. Many of those devices need external source of power instead of using body's energy (unlike biological machines that are highly 'plug and play') which makes them harder to maintain. It also increases costs because patients have to routinely visit hospitals to replace the batteries or fix them.

5. Even if you build highly advanced mechanical heart with non-biologial materials, it could have magnetic interferences and software level problems which are non-existent with biological machines.

The conventional Jarvis-style artificial heart also tries to imitate the functioning of a human heart, with distinct pumps making up a heartbeat. They tend to suffer from mechanical fatigue over time, though, because they have no mechanism for self-repair. There has, however, been some interesting artificial heart research that uses continuous-flow pumps that could conceivably work much better than the current generation of artificial hearts: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-02/no-pulse-how-d...

Dick Cheney has one.

Dick Cheney has half of one. He has a left-ventricular assist device, which has one pump, but still has a heart that does part of the work. The proposed devices in the PopSci article are two of those pumps together, replacing the heart's functions altogether. These have been implanted into cows and work fine, but haven't worked their way through the FDA yet for non-trial use in people.

Registration is open for Startup School 2019. Classes start July 22nd.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact