Healthy Goals: playing basketball without your heart! Technology is progressing so aggressively that we are on the verge of substituting our most important body organs, like the heart, with artificial devices. Will it be possible to gain immortality thanks to tech?
The Background: Heart in backpack
It was in 2016. His name is Stan Larkin, he is 25 years old and he has a non-typical record that must be worthy of a Guinness: living 555 days using an artificial heart carried in a backpack 24/7. This “heart” pumped blood around his body and kept him alive before transplant.
The SynCardia Freedom Portable Driver uses compressed air to supply heart function, and was designed so that patients waiting for a heart transplant can make a more or less normal life outside the hospital. In fact, this guy is a basketball player who continued working hard and playing hard, by carrying the 13 pounds backpack on his back.
How many people are waiting for a transplant? Who receives organs and what organs are most needed? This section introduces you to the data and connects you to more detailed statistics for the waiting list, transplantation, organ donation, and registration.
As you can see, the numbers are delicate. It requires an active intervention from expert scientists and researchers in medical and technological fields to find a solution, which perhaps ultimately, could be the key to immortality —What a commitment, docs!
Among the advances in Synthetic Biology and Tissue Engineering, out stands the creation of the so-called “organs-on-a-chip“, devices that recreate the functions of a real organ and allow its study on a micro scale.
The progress in other new organ development, like the human kidneys, are being made using 3D printers.
However, are all the biological structures that we can imagine feasible? As we advance on this branch of science and tissue engineering, it is necessary to know the limits of what is possible as far as new organisms are concerned.
Cotton Candy Experimentation
Between other recent efforts of solving the medical needs of today, the machines that are used for the production of cotton candy can begin to be used for the production of organs for the human body, like the Vascular Toolbox.
Researchers have manipulated the machines to create threads as small as capillaries; finally, these machines are capable of producing artificial organs on a large scale —Tasty! Candy Crush is not the only sweet tech application of the future.
“Some people in the science field think this approach is a little crazy,” Leon Bellan, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt University, said in a statement —Pleading in its favor, we both know that an infinity of inventions background stories were a bit zany at the very beginning, so who cares? Keep going on, doc!
So if you could be immortal, would you extend your lifetime? Will the immortality be so expensive that only the richest will have access to it? As we could turn into half-machines, are we the robots which we must be afraid of in the future?
Hands down, the landscape is being painted limitless for the human species.