The background story: We celebrate the birthday of the first artificial heart for humans

This week in 1969, a former UT Austin medical student shocked the world when he implanted the first artificial heart in a human patient.

AUSTIN, Texas – 54 years ago, on April 4, 1969, a cardiac surgeon who received his early training at the University of Texas at Austin accomplished what many thought was impossible – implanting the first mechanical heart in a human patient.

It’s been a long road from the Longhorn basketball court, where young zoology student Denton Cooley was a star athlete in the Class of 1939, to the revolution he brought about to heal the damaged heart.

From that day in 1969, Dr. Cooley, a cardiac surgeon known for his skill and innovation, and his team – including at times his colleague Dr. Michael DeBakey – Putting Houston on the map as the leading place to fix the world hearts.

While a pure artificial heart was then and is impractical for long-term use in a patient, it is an effective temporary bridge for a patient awaiting a human heart transplant. However, partially mechanical hearts worn long-term keep patients alive today.

Meanwhile, a major crisis for a patient in need of a transplant is the fact that far more people need it than there are hearts available.

“We should transplant organs, not bury them,” said Dr. Rick Snyder, a Dallas cardiologist and President-elect of the Texas Medical Association. “We have the science. We have the hospitals. We have health insurance, but we don’t have enough organs.”

dr Snyder has been working on legislation that would make organ donation in Texas an “opt-out” rather than an “opt-in” situation — meaning Texas residents would automatically become organ donors after their death if they didn’t opt ​​out decide a state organ donation register.

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