Scientists at VSSC Trivandrum Builds Low Cost Human Heart Pump Using Rocket Technology!

This is one of the examples of how work that is done for rocket technology or satellite technology can help human beings.

A few days ago scientist and engineers at ISRO surprised the nation with the invention of world’s lightest material. Now, they made the country proud once again by building a lifesaving equipment.

The scientist and engineers at Vikram Sarabhai Space Center Trivandrum has developed a device which some describe as a step towards the making of an ‘artificial heart’. The multi-talented team at ISRO made a heart pump as a spinoff technology development in their spare time.  The device may be able to help patients who are in need of a heart transplant.

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Using the same materials that is used to make lightweight rockets and satellites, scientists at ISRO have perfected a device that assists the human heart to pump blood especially in cases where the left ventricle, the most powerful part of a human heart, starts to fail. The heart assist device has been tested on animals and found to be successful.

How it works

Called the ‘left ventricular assist device’ this device can pump 3-5 litres of blood every minute. The special pump can be powered using an indigenously made ‘highly energy dense’ – Lithium Ion cell, which is also for the first time been made in India again by ISRO. The pump, which weighs about 100 grams can be fitted inside the body or placed externally and it needs a hook up to a battery to power it.

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The device pumps blood using a common technology called a centrifugal pump and the challenge was to make sure that even with continuous operation it should not heat up and should obviously be fail proof.

So far, the device has been successful in tests

The device which is akin to an artificial heart has been tested successfully on half a dozen pigs. Cardiologists at the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTMST) in Trivandrum surgically operated healthy pigs and replaced the functioning of the left ventricle of the pig with this special pump developed by ISRO.

VSSC has also very recently developed high value Lithium Ion battery, first time in India, which could now be used to power the heart pump.

The pig survived a full 6 hours, which was the full design of the experiment. No damage was reported to the blood and even the other organs of the pig suffered no damage for the full duration of the experiment. The device is currently in progress and further experimentation will be done on animals before the device can be tried on humans.

Alternative to expensive Heart pump machines

As of now artificial pump is a very expensive device and it has to be imported from abroad. Importing a heart pump device and then implanting it costs over a crore of rupees. However, scientists at VSSC say the device developed by them cost just Rs 1.25 lakh.

It took a team of about two dozen specialists and six years to develop this device

This is because the expertise and the materials already existed at VSSC and all they had to do was to put together a team of specialists that included metallurgists, electronics engineers, specialists on flow mechanics and designers who worked alongside cardiologists to come up with a suitable design. It took a team of about two dozen specialists about 6 years and after many trial and error they came up with the right design.

This is one of the examples of how work that is done for rocket technology or satellite technology can help human beings. There is no doubt that ISRO will continue to push the boundaries of technology and the scientists of ISRO.

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