BBC Home
Explore the BBC
26 August  
Search ON THIS DAY by date
Go back one day Go forward one day  
Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
About This Site | Text Only
1994: Man gets 'bionic' heart
A man has been given the world's first battery-operated heart in a pioneering operation in Britain.

The patient, an unnamed 62-year-old from the south of England, is now in a stable condition at the world-famous Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire.

He had only months to live when doctors offered him the chance of being a guinea-pig for the new titanium and plastic device, manufactured in America.

Known as the Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) it is not a replacement for the human heart.

It is essentially an electrical pump which does most of the work of the pumping chamber of the heart, the left ventricle.

During the four-hour operation the LVAD was placed in the wall of the man's abdomen and connected to his heart.

The pump is powered by a battery pack which the patient will wear on his belt.


The operation was performed by an 11-man team led by top heart surgeons Sir Terence English and John Wallwork.

Sir Terence carried out Britain's first successful heart transplant on entertainer Keith Castle in 1979.

The pioneering procedure could provide a vital alternative to heart transplants.

The LVAD, which costs 40,000, has been used successfully in more than 200 patients to keep them alive until a donated heart became available.

However, a trial being carried out a Papworth will allow surgeons to see whether the device has a role in the long-term therapy of patients with cardiac failure.

Patients being considered suitable to take part in the trial are being randomly allocated to two groups.

One will have the device implanted and the remaining control group will continue with their usual drug treatment.

 E-mail this story to a friend

Heart pump
The pump is powered by a battery pack

'Bionic' heart operation

In Context
The recipient of the heart pump was later named as Arthur Cornhill.

He died from kidney failure nine months after the operation.

At the time of Mr Cornhill's death the LVAD had been implanted into two other British men, one of whom died shortly afterwards.

In 2000 progress in LVAD technology allowed doctors in Oxford, England, to fit the first pump designed to be a permanent fixture inside a patient's failing heart.

The patient, Peter Houghton, was on the brink of death before the operation that allowed to him to lead a fit and active life.

Stories From 26 Aug

Search ON THIS DAY by date
Go back one day Go forward one day  

^^ back to top
Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
©MMVIII | News Sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy