Reviving Artificial Hearts

Clark's travail gave the technology a bad name--but researchers are ready to try again

Nobody has talked much about artificial hearts in recent years, and no wonder. It took Washington dentist Barney Clark 112 miserable days to die after being fitted with the Jarvik-7 heart back in 1982--four months of suffering that included convulsions, kidney failure, respiratory problems, a wandering mind and, finally, multi-organ system failure. In the aftermath of that debacle, the New York Times nicknamed artificial-heart research the "Dracula of Medical Technology."

But Dracula has risen again. About a dozen companies and academic research centers have been working without fanfare on devices that can replace all or part of a failing heart. Getting...

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