Medicine: Helping Out a Heart in Texas

Dramatic debut for a device that can save cardiac patients

Doctors have long suspected that the heart could heal itself even when damaged by a heart attack or during surgery -- if only there were a way to let it rest. For more than 20 years, researchers have been trying to develop implantable pumps that temporarily take over part of the heart's job. Some half a dozen such devices are now available, most of them experimental, bulky and requiring risky open-heart surgery. But at a medical conference last week in Reno, O. Howard Frazier, director of the transplant program at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston, described the first successful use...

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