Artificial hearts like this one (designed to run on external batteries and a computer) bear little resemblance to the bulky, high-risk devices that were developed in the 1970s and 1980s.

Photograph by Rebecca Hale, National Geographic

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  • On November 30, 2001, Robert Tools of Louisville, Kentucky, died, 151 days after surgery that implanted a fully self-contained artificial heart. Tools’ artificial heart, known as the AbioCor, was the first model not to have wires or tubes penetrating the patient’s skin.
    Artificial-heart technology reduces the need for heart transplants. Heart transplants are complex surgical procedures that rely on medical compatibility and accessibility to donors with healthy hearts. Medical professionals review considerations such as blood type, organ size, and the time a patient has been on a waiting list for an organ. The most influential factors considered, however, are the locations of the organ donor and the potential recipient.
    Artificial organs may make geography less of a factor in organ donation.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    accessible Adjective

    relatively easy to approach, use, or obtain.

    compatible Adjective

    complementary, or capable of working together productively.

    complex Adjective


    donor Noun

    person or community who gives something away.

    geography Noun

    study of places and the relationships between people and their environments.

    Encyclopedic Entry: geography
    heart Noun

    vital organ for all animals with a circulatory system, responsible for pumping blood throughout the body.

    organ Noun

    group of tissues that perform a specialized task.

    penetrate Verb

    to push through.

    potential Noun


    procedure Noun

    method or steps followed to achieve a goal.

    technology Noun

    the science of using tools and complex machines to make human life easier or more profitable.