The first artificial heart was implanted by surgeon Denton Cooley on April 4, 1969, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston, TX. The recipient, Haskell Karp, lived for nearly 3 days with the artificial heart until a real human heart was available for transplant.
The heart is not on display at the National Museum of American History, but Alexis Madrigal, from The Atlantic, gained access the storage closet shown below to get a closer look and snap the photos below. The heart sits inconspicuously above the original capillary kidney.
The heart really does look like a World War I era gas mask, but it got the job done, and it proved that artificial hearts could be used successfully as a bridge to heart transplant.
The picture shown below is a top-view showing the four major valves: aortic, pulmonary, mitral, and tricuspid.
That day in Houston will no doubt be a pivotal moment in our history toward becoming cyborgs.
Happy Valentine’s Day!