Artificial Organs


An artificial organ is a man-made device used to replace a natural organ, for the purpose of restoring a patient’s state of living back to as normal as possible. An artificial organ does not need to be does not an external power source, nor does it any refilling of chemicals and/or filter replacements.

Main Purpose
life support patients
  • Those that cannot find transplant
Improvement of persons life that aids in independence
  • artificial limb
Improvement to ability to interact
  • Hearing implant (cochlear implant) see below
Cosmetic improvements
  • Cancer surgery



Artificial organs have numerous applications, some of which have been successful than others. Not all artificial organs repair physical damage. In fact, a brain pacemaker is used to relieve depression, epilepsy, tremors of Parkinson’s disease, and other neural network diseases. It does so by disrupting any malfunctioning nerves that cause symptoms to arise.
Cochlear (ear) implant
Cochlear (ear) implant



Through the implementation of the cochlear implant, often called the bionic ear, a person who is deaf or extremely hard of hearing can obtain the sense of sound. Unlike hearing aids, the cochlear implant does not amplify sound. Instead, it works directly by stimulating any functioning auditory nerves, those responsible for transmitting sound and providing balance. While natural hearing is not usually achieved, most patients who receive the implant typically are pleased and return to have the procedure done to the other ear.

external image vizbrain.jpgSight

A bionic eye is a form of neural implementation to partially restore vision, or amplify already existent vision. It is done with the use of an externally-worn camera that is attached to a stimulator on the retina, optic nerve, or in the visual cortex in order to produce perceptions in the visual cortex. Recent innovations have been made to make these prosthesis devices more practical, requiring little-to-no externally-worn devices; Alan Chow and Vincent Chow are responsible for the development of a microchip which contains 3,500 photo diodes used to detect light and convert it into electrical impulses.

The artificial heart is used to replace the biological heart, but only for a limited period of time. The use of artificial hearts, at the moment, are for patients who are awaiting transplant as the artificial heart is unable to sustain life beyond 18 months of use.

Research is being conducted and innovations are being made every day. Concepts are becoming reality, and people are living longer all thanks to artificial organs. Although society may be aware of it existence, the technology involved is still in its early stages. We still have a lot to learn and gain from artificial organs has to offer. Disabilities may no longer be a major concern with the assistance of artificial organs. If an implant can allow a once deaf person to experience sound, then there’s no telling what all there is to offer.

Artificial Organs

  • Typically used temporary while waiting for a transplant or permanently replace the organ.
  • First total artificial transplant (temporary)
    • April 4, 1969
    • was a bridge for a transplant
    • used for 64 hours
    • patient died 32 hours after transplant
  • First total artificial transplant (permanent)
    • 85th attempt
    • December 2, 1982
    • survived 112 days
  • Artificial heart survival
    • June 1996
    • Taiwanese American
    • Currently still alive
  • Currently still under development
    • HepaLife is leading development of bioartificial liver
  • Could be used outside the body
    • keep patients alive after kidney failure
  • First liver grown from stem cells
    • Used to test new drugs
    • Will be used for transplants
  • Still in development
  • Research is currently underway at BioLung
  • Read more here

  • Main use is for diabetic patients
  • Goals
    • Improve insulin replacement therapy
    • ease burden of insulin dependency
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  • Biaendgineering Approach
    • implanting bioengineered tissue containing islet cells;
    • Design
      • inner mesh fibers
      • islet cells
      • semi-permeable protective layer
      • a protectie coating

Current Projects
  • Biohybrid Lung
    • A membrane oxygenator that incorporates endothelial cells to allow continuous blood flow without the need for or potential risks of anticoagulation therapy will enter animal testing within two years. This biohybrid oxygenator has the potential to provide functionality and durability unachievable with its fully synthetic predecessors. Another project is exploring incorporating endothelial cells and microfabrication technology as used in the semiconductor industry to develop artificial alveolar-capillary modules, which may become the building blocks of biohybrid artificial lungs. A related project is focused on developing biological cellular membranes consisting of co-cultures between pulmonary epithelial and endothelial cells that may result in a robust biological membrane with mechanical and gas transfer properties capable of augmenting or replacing pulmonary structures.
  • Bio-artificial Liver
    • Currently in a Phase I Trial, the bioartificial liver support system employs a hollow-fiber bioreactor cartridge that is loaded with hepatocytes. In one version of the reactor the hollow fibers act as an immunoisolation barrier, serving to prevent direct contact of patient blood flowing on the interior of the fibers with the hepatocytes on the exterior of the fibers. In an even more exciting development, the hollow fibers are being used as an artificial capillary network, passing plasma from the interior of one fiber, through the cellular layer and Into another fiber after metabolism.
  • Artificial Heart
  • Artificial Blood
    • Currently research is being conducted to examine blood soluble drag-reducing polymers and their potential clinical applications. Such polymers may be used in substances such as artificial blood/transfusion fluids for critical care medicine, surgery and organ preservation, blood additive for improvement of microcirculation impaired by diabetes, atherosclerosis and sickle cell disease.
      An all-purpose blood substitute that combines the high oxygen- carrying and nutrient supplement capabilities of natural blood with superior fluid properties is currently being developed and tested in vivo and in vitro. The long term goal of this research is to achieve maximal oxygen delivery with minimal concentration of the oxygen carrier via superior mechanical and physical properties resulting from the special drag-reducing components of the product.
  • Chronic Artificial Lung
    • Researchers are striving to improve the overall efficiency and the biocompatibility of artificial lung devices. Current research is focused on the potential to encourage endothelial cell adhesion and growth on commercial and modified microspore polypropylene hollow fibers as a step toward the creation of an artificial lung that is capable of extended patient support.Such research aims to tackle fundamental design issues associated with the artificial lung device, including simultaneous flow, diffusion, and chemical interaction or reaction phenomena.
      Through the application of basic tools of chemical engineering transport phenomena to analyze and understand biotransport processes, researchers are truly striving towards the conception of the next generation artificial lung. The goal of the program is to manufacture an artificial lung device which retains the ability to support patients with both acute lung disease and/or a failing chronic condition, and may be incorporated into small implantable devices for temporary support as well as wearable devices for longer-term support.

Web Resources

Orthotopic cardiac prosthesis for two-staged cardiac replacement. Am J Cardio 1969; 24:723–730.

J. Wei, K. K. Cheng, D. Y. Tung, C. Y. Chang, W. M. Wan, Y. C. Chuang: Successful Use of Phoenix-7 Total Artificial Heart. Transplantation Proceedings, 1998, 30:3403-4

Related Terminology
Artificial Muscle
Artificial Bone
Artifical Skin
Artifical Nose