Two doctors Billy Cohn and Bud Frazier from the Texas Heart Institute successfully replaced a dying man’s heart with a device—proving that it is possible for your body to be kept alive without a heart, or a pulse.
In the short film ‘Heart Stop Beating’ by Jeremiah Zagar of Focus Forward Films, Zagar documents the process of the doctors—from cutting out the whole heart of 50 calves and replacing it with centrifugal pumps, to finally implanting it into their patient Craig Lewis.
The turbine-like device, that are simple whirling rotors, developed by the doctors does not beat like a heart, rather provides a ‘continuous flow’ like a garden hose.
After the doctors experimented on one of the calves, Abigail, Doctor Cohn told NPR: "If you listened to her chest with a stethoscope, you wouldn't hear a heartbeat. If you examined her arteries, there's no pulse. If you hooked her up to an EKG, she'd be flat-lined."
Craig Lewis was a 55-year-old, dying from amyloidosis, which causes a build-up of abnormal proteins. The proteins clog the organs so much that they stop working, according to NPR.
But after the operation, with the ‘machine’ as his heart's replacement, Lewis’ blood continued to spin and move through his body.
However, when doctors put a stethoscope to his chest, no heartbeat or pulse can be heard (only a ‘humming’ sound)—which “by all criteria that we conventionally use to analyze patients”, Doctor Cohn said, he is dead.
This is proof that “human physiology can be supported without a pulse”.