In March of 2011, a gentlemen by the name of Craig Lewis, a 55-year-old suffering from a life threatening heart problem was admitted to the Texas Heart Institute with a condition called “amyloidosis.”
It’s a rare autoimmune disease that fills internal organs with a viscous protein that causes rapid heart, kidney and liver failure.
Without immediate intervention Lewis would have likely died within days.
Fortunately, Dr. Billy Cohn and Dr. Bud Frazier from the Institute came up with what they call a “continuous flow” device which would allow blood to circulate throughout his body without a pulse. They removed Mr Lewis’ heart and then installed the device. The patient was up, well and speaking with physicians the very same day.
Dr. Cohn is a veteran surgeon, as well as an inventor and researcher who has spent a large portion of his life developing technologies to replace or repair the human heart. The most notable device being what is called the Left Ventricular Assist Device, also known as LVADs.
Cohn teamed up with Dr. Bud Frazier to develop a new invention that uses the technology from LVADs to replicate the functions of the heart’s right and left ventricles.
As mentioned above, Craig Lewis was the first human to receive this technology. The procedure took less than 48 hours and was a great success. His kidneys and liver were not so lucky however, they were failing him and after a few months his family asked the doctors to unplug the device.
Below is a video titled “Heart Stop Beating.” It’s the story of these two doctors and the process they had to go through to replace this man’s dying heart with a ‘continuous flow’ device.