Cybernetics – Left Ventricular Assist Device

Left ventricular assist device technology isn’t necessarily new, but it is one of the biggest harbingers of cybernetic technology. People with weak hearts that are waiting for a donor can use these sorts of heart pumps to bridge patients over until they can receive a full transplant. However, such LVAD machines are usually located in hospitals and are quite large. Likewise, LVAD machines are sometimes used immediately after heart surgery.

However, there have been experiments with a third class of patient that comes much closer to the usual perception of augmented humanity. These people were given a portable type of LVAD and permitted to live in their own homes. Unlike using total artificial heart replacements, the portable LVAD worked alongside of natural hearts. This might even be closer to what one could consider a cybernetic implant.

While mechanical prosthetic limbs are no longer uncommon, they represent technology that simply replaces organic body parts. An LVAD is a type of a device that can just as easily work alongside of the original tissue. Allowing patients to return to their own homes is a major accomplishment, regardless of how much work remains to be done.

Some early data suggested that immune reactions could be set off by LVAD, and they might not fight certain types of internal inflammation. Humanity is still essentially human. When these problems are corrected, the quality of life for humanity augmented by machinery will surely increase. Nevertheless, a healthy diet and plenty of exercise won’t be replaced by machinery in the short term.

Image Credit: Rizzieri et al. Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine, 2008

Reference:

Rizzieri, A., Verheijde, J., Rady, M., & McGregor, J. (2008). Ethical challenges with the left ventricular assist device as a destination therapy Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine, 3 (1) DOI: 10.1186/1747-5341-3-20

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