Heart Devices -- History

The Devices

Heart Assist Pump
Artificial Heart
Clinical Trial
PSU Heart News

Teaching, Research, Service


Press Information


Significant Events at Penn State
Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

  • 1985 The Penn State Heart, an air-driven total artificial heart, is first implanted in a patient, who dies 27 days later.

  • 1986 The Penn State Heart is implanted in its second patient, who remains on the device until his death 13 months later.

  • 1988 The National Institutes of Health awards the Medical Center a $5.7 million contract for research to develop an electrical, artificial heart.

  • 1991 Holly the calf shatters the record for the longest living calf on any artificial heart. She survives for one year and 23 days.

  • 1993 The Medical Center is one of only three institutions awarded a three-year, $5.4 million contract from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to continue its work in developing a permanently implantable electric heart.

  • 1996 Hershey Medical Center receives a $7.7 million federal contract awarded for research of the electromechanical heart.

  • 1998 A Biomedical Engineering Institute will be established at Hershey Medical Center thanks to a grant of nearly $1 million from the Whitaker Foundation. The institute's purpose is to add a new educational component to the bioengineering program at Penn State.

  • A newly FDA-approved heart assist device, the Vented Electric Left Ventricular Assist Device, is implanted for the first time in the country in a patient at Hershey Medical Center. The device will allow seriously ill heart patients to survive and wait at home for a heart transplant. The surgical team is led by Benjamin Sun, M.D., assistant professor of surgery at Penn State's College of Medicine and assistant director of heart transplantation at Hershey Medical Center.

  • 1999 As part of a multi-center clinical trial, a patient on a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is placed on a portable driver-control unit that will power the LVAD. This is the first clinical use of the device in the United States. The device will greatly improve the patient's mobility and allow her to leave the hospital while awaiting a heart transplant, according to Walter Pae, Jr., M.D., professor of surgery at the College of Medicine and director of cardiac transplantation at Hershey Medical Center.

  • Physicians begin implanting a new heart-assist device in patients with end-stage heart failure who are not candidates for transplantation. The new device is totally implantable and permanent--not a bridge to transplantation or temporary heart helper. The lead investigator is Walter E. Pae, Jr., professor of surgery. The device is called the Arrow LionheartTM and was developed at the College of Medicine in conjunction with Arrow International, Inc., of Reading, Pa.

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