Atomic Artifical Heart

This is one side of an artificial heart made to be used with a drive system developed at NASA's Lewis Research Center (the John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field) for Dr.Willem Kolff in the Department of Artificial Organs at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio. The heart was driven with air, and used electric coils as transducers. The drive system regulated and provided air to the ventricles.
The heart is a rounded U-shape with two openings at the top for artificial ball heart valves. It is of made of silicone, and has layered Dacron netting for strength. At the front of the heart are two tubes which connect to the drive system. On the opposite side from the tube, there is a system of wires and coils implanted into the wall of the heart. Wires extend from top of the heart and connect to the coil system. No pumping membranes or valves are present. There are three prongs inside one of the blood openings, that shows where valve would be positioned.
This artificial heart was made by Tetsuzo Akutsu, and was one of the earliest (1962-1964) to be developed in Kolff's laboratory. Experiments with dogs lasting approximately twenty-four hours demonstrated the feasibility of this design, however, several problems including thrombosis and emboli were a serious complication.
Currently not on view
date made
Akutsu, Tetsuzo
place made
United States: Ohio, Cleveland
Physical Description
silicone (overall material)
dacron (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 5 1/2 in x 2 3/4 in x 3 in; 13.97 cm x 6.985 cm x 7.62 cm
overall: 3 3/8 in x 3 5/8 in x 7 1/2 in; 8.5725 cm x 9.2075 cm x 19.05 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Willem J. Kolff, M.D.
Health Care
Artificial Organs
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Government, Politics, and Reform
Artificial Hearts
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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