News | February 16, 2009

Father of World’s Only FDA, CE Approved Total Artificial Heart Dies at 97

Syncardia's CardioWest artificial heart

February 12, 2009 - Dr. Willem Johan Kolff, the world’s most prolific inventor of artificial organs, passed away Feb. 11 at the age of 97 in Philadelphia.

Among Dr. Kolff’s many accomplishments were the artificial kidney, heart-lung machine, artificial eye, artificial ear and artificial arm. However, he was best known for his decades of work that led to the Jarvik 7 artificial heart.

“The modern version of Dr. Kolff’s artificial heart, the CardioWest temporary total artificial heart, is the result of 60 years of development by the giants of medicine,” said Rodger Ford, president and CEO of SynCardia Systems Inc. “Without Dr. Kolff’s vision, innovation and leadership, the artificial heart would not be the life-saving technology it is today.”

In 1947, the modern day artificial heart began as a dream of Dr. Kolff. In 1950, Dr. Kolff left his home in The Netherlands to begin work on the artificial heart at Cleveland Clinic. On Dec. 12, 1957, Dr. Kolff’s work resulted in the implant of an artificial heart into a dog that lived for 90 minutes.

In 1967, Dr. Kolff left Cleveland Clinic to start the Division of Artificial Organs at the University of Utah. More than 240 physicians, engineers, students and faculty developed, tested and improved Dr. Kolff’s artificial heart.

On Dec. 2, 1982, Dr. Kolff’s 35 years of dedication culminated in the first implant of his artificial heart into dentist Barney Clark. Clark, who was hours from death prior to the surgery, lived for 112 days.

Today, there have been more than 780 implants, accounting for more than 150 patient years of life on the artificial heart. Originally designed as a permanent replacement heart, the CardioWest artificial heart is currently approved as a bridge to human heart transplant for patients dying from both sides of the heart failing (end stage biventricular failure).

?The next generation of artificial heart technology is the Companion Discharge Driver, which is designed to power the artificial heart outside the hospital. In March, SynCardia will submit an application to the FDA to conduct an IDE clinical study of the Companion Discharge Driver at 22 U.S. certified centers. For the first time in the U.S., CardioWest patients will be able to enjoy life at home while they wait for a matching donor heart.

This spring, Herman Broers, the co-founder and managing director of the Willem Kolff Foundation, will hold a memorial ceremony at the Kolff Museum in The Netherlands to honor Dr. Kolff. The CardioWest artificial heart is currently on display at the Kolff Museum in the very room where Dr. Kolff first envisioned his artificial heart more than 60 years ago.

For more information:

Related Content

Medtronic HeartWare HVAD System Approved for Destination Therapy
Technology | Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD)| October 04, 2017
October 4, 2017 — Medtronic received U.S.
Abiomed Receives FDA PMA Approval for Impella RP for Right Heart Failure
Technology | Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD)| September 28, 2017
Abiomed Inc. recently received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pre-market approval (PMA) for the Impella RP ...
Abbott Receives FDA Approval for HeartMate 3 Left Ventricular Assist System
Technology | Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD)| August 29, 2017
Abbott announced it has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for its Full MagLev HeartMate 3 Left...
Pre-PCI Impella 2.5 Insertion Improves Survival in Left Main Coronary Artery Heart Attacks
News | Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD)| June 30, 2017
Abiomed Inc. announced the recent publication of a peer-reviewed retrospective study on hemodynamic support with the...
Heartware HVAD recall for its ventricular assist device from Medtronic
Feature | Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD)| May 05, 2017
May 5, 2017 — Medtronic Mechanical Circulatory Support is expanding its recall of its HeartWare Ventricular Assist De
Videos | Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD)| April 14, 2017
A discussion with William O'Neill, M.D., FACC, FSCAI, medical director of the Center for Structural Heart Disease at
Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit Cardiogenic Shock Initiative, Impella pump, ACC.17 clinical study
News | Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD)| April 03, 2017
Hospitals can dramatically increase heart attack survival rates in patients suffering cardiogenic shock by providing...
Metro Detroit cardiologists, increased heart attack survival rate, Impella heart pump, Detroit Cardiogenic Shock Initiative
News | Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD)| March 09, 2017
Metro Detroit cardiologists from five health systems have joined together to increase residents’ survival rate from...
Impella 2.5 heart pump, high-risk PCI, HRPCI, acute kidney injury risk, AKI, Circulation Research study, Abiomed
News | Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD)| March 09, 2017
A new study published in Circulation Research finds use of hemodynamic support with the Impella 2.5 heart pump during...
James Ward, LVAD surgery, left ventricular assist device, UAB, University of Alabama at Birmingham
News | Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD)| March 08, 2017
Congestive heart failure patients at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) now have reason for optimism with a...
Overlay Init