Barney Clark, a 61 year old dentist from Seattle suffering from extreme congestive heart failure so severe that a normal heart transplant was not an option. There was another possibilty. The FDA had recently approved the new Jarvik 7 artificial heart for human implantation. Dr. Clark understood the pumonary infection problems with the device along with being tethered to a large external compressor. He also knew that the survival rate was virtually nil. But with only hours to live, Barney and his wife Una Loy volunteered not only for Barney, but also in the interest of advancement of medical science so others may benefit from what was to be learned. On December 2, 1982 Dr. Clark (born January 21, 1921 in Provo, Utah) became the *1st human to receive a totally artificial heart to sustain him for the rest of his life.
The operation was performed by Dr. William DeVries under the supervision of Willem J. Kolff at the University of Utah.
Expected post operative problems were many: A colon infection, kidney and lung problems, drifting in and out of consciousness and cronic clotting which caused strokes. Days turned into weeks then months as he continue to struggle to the extent that on several occasions Barney asked to be allowed to die. When his brain finally stopped funtioning and Barney was declared "brain dead", 'The Key Was Turned Off'.
Dr. DeVries said. ''It became obvious that the artificial heart could not support the rest of the body as it died, and it was obvious that the circulatory collapse was essentially exactly that - death of the entire being except for the artificial heart.''
Barney Clark survieved for 112 Days. On March 23, 1983 Dr. Barney Bailey Clark passed away.
G. William Wiersdorf
See: NY Times, Dr. Clark's Death; Jarvikheart.com, Barney Clark Takes One for the Team; SynCardia, 25th Anniversary Video