Electrohydrolic artificial heart

This electrohydraulic artificial heart is an early prototype for the Jarvik-7 artificial heart. The left and right chambers of the heart are connected with Velcro©. The electrohydrolic heart was featured on the cover of LIFE Magazine, September 1981 proclaiming, “The Artificial Heart Is Here.”
The electrohydraulic heart has only one moving part, the reversible impeller or turbine. Blood does not go through the impeller, therefore there is not supposed to a concern with blood damage. Numerous scientists and engineers worked on the development of the artificial heart, but it was Robert Jarvik, M.D. in the Kolff laboratory who changed the TAH from a sphere to an elliptical shape allowing it to fit more easily into the chest cavity. Jarvik also added a third and fourth bladder to each ventricle creating more flexibility and durability. The addition of two extra rubber bellows allowed for more vigerous blood flow. His improvements allowed the correct amount of blood 100cc's, to circulate through the body. Jarvik also experimented with materials using polyurethane Biomar to create surfaces inside the housing which prevented blood thrombosis or clotting.
The first implantation of a Jarvik-7 Total Artificial Heart occurred December 1982. The TAH was implanted in Barney Clark by Dr. William DeVries at the University of Utah Medical Center. The highly publicized artificial heart operations brought attention to the triumphs of scientific technology its limitations,and its costs, both literal and figurative.
Object Name
heart, artificial
artificial heart, electrohydraulic
date made
Kolff Laboratory
Physical Description
salastic (overall material)
dacron (overall material)
metal (overall material)
velcro (overall material)
overall: 5 in x 6 1/2 in; 12.7 cm x 16.51 cm
overall: 4 in x 7 1/4 in x 7 3/4 in; 10.16 cm x 18.415 cm x 19.685 cm
place made
United States: Utah, Salt Lake City
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Artificial Organs
Artificial Hearts
Health & Medicine
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Artificial Hearts
Inventing In America
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Willim J. Kolff, M.D.
Related Publication
Kolff, Willem J., M.D. et al.. Electrohydraulic-Clamshell Heart with Energy Converter Inside the Compliance Reservoir
Additional Media

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