Nothing on earth is eternal. All things have a specific period of existence. But what happens when due to disease or injuries, one body part stops functioning, putting the life of the person in danger? These days, doctors have body parts for immediate replacement or an artificial substitute. Have you wondered how many parts of the body can be replaced by artificial substitutes?
Over the past two decades, bio-engineers have developed over 40 artificial body parts for diseased tissues and organs. Some of these, such as kidney dialysis machine, re external devices. Others, such as plastic heart valves and artificial blood vessels are implanted inside the body, replacing the diseased or damaged one. Two devices- the dialysis machine and artificial heart valves- are of special interest.
The artificial kidney or dialysis machine performs the function of removing body wastes from the blood of a person whose kidneys are unable to function properly. It is an external device and the patient needs dialysis once or twice a week. With this machine, a person can be kept alive for years.
In April 1969, Dr. Denton A. Cooley of St. Luke’s Episcopal hospital in
, placed an artificial heart made form Dacron and Silastic (a mix of two words silicone and plastic) into a dying man. Three days later, a cadaver’s heart became available and was used to replace the artificial device. The next day, the patient died. Some 13 years later, at the Houston, Texas medical centre, an artificial heart powered by a 170 kilogram external system, was implanted in the chest of Barney Clark, aged 62 years. He died 112 days later of multiple organs collapse. The heart itself was in perfect working condition. This was one of the greatest breakthroughs in the creation of artificial hearts. University of Utah
In 1984-1985, several artificial heart implants were performed in the
United States and . Good life spans have been achieved but at a tremendous cost. Sweden
Humans have used artificial teeth, bones, and joints for a long time with a high success rate.
The heart, the lung, the liver, the kidney, the adrenal glands and cornea can be transplanted from one human being to another. Success rate of transplantations of human organs is much higher than that of artificial parts. Replicable artificial parts of plastics, metals and other materials are shown in the figure given on the previous page.