MIAMI -- Doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital called a surgery in which a man had his entire heart removed while he awaits a transplant groundbreaking and rare.Doctors said they had to perform a medical procedure done only 20 times in the entire world for Louis Quarterman, 61, or he might not be alive today.
"I don't have anybody's heart inside me now, and that's amazing to me," Quarterman said. "That big machine right there at the foot of my bed, that's the heart. It's operating from the outside."In 1993, Quarterman had a heart transplant at Jackson Memorial Hospital. It served him well for 12 years."That transplanted heart started going bad. We knew we would have to get to the point we would have to re-transplant," Quarterman said.But, there were no matching donors, so two weeks ago, University of Miami surgeons at JMH removed Quarterman's heart and reconstructed the main chambers to hook him up to the external pumps, which are now keeping him alive. It was the first procedure of its kind in Florida."There have been 20 or so done in the entire world, mostly Europe. There may be four or five cases in this country, but none of them have been reported except one case," said Dr. Si Pham, the transplant surgeon.The device buys time to find Quarterman a real heart."This has been a lot more difficult than the transplant. It's extremely discomforting," Quarterman said.Quarterman and his daughter, Rajii Quarterman, are optimistic and grateful to have this option."Thanks to you, Dr. Baluki, for his first transplant, and to Dr. Pham for thinking outside the box in looking for another alternative to keep him alive until his next transplant," Rajii Quarterman said.Doctors said that the external pumps do increase the risk of infection and stroke, but that technically, the device could work for years.
And here is the Digg story with all associated heart jokes, haha: http://digg.com/science/Man_Kept_Ali..._Heart_Removed
But this story got me thinking, if we can replace a heart with a machine... why can't we take the brain out of someone's skull who's body was severely hurt, pump oxygenated blood to it, and keep it alive. Then we could tap into the brainstem one nerve at a time and add technology as it's invented, such as a camera with the signals converted so they can feed the image into the optical nerve of the brain, and allow the "person" to see again... whoa. It seems possible. Also, imagine being in that situation, you're still alive and can think normally, but you have no senses (complete blackness), and all you are is thoughts.... might get kinda boring after a while, haha. Try covering your eyes and ignoring all other senses.... imagine being in that state for a while until one day, all of a sudden, vision reappears to you, as the doctors figure out how to interface with that nerve. Then one day you can hear again.... and one by one you get reconnected to the world, only without your body. That would be one hell of an experience.
Why can't we do that now? We have the technology...