Left Ventricular Assist Device
NASA Glenn engineers have been designing and analyzing turbo pumps for rocket engines since before the Apollo missions. That's no secret. But you might be surprised to learn that aerospace engineers also helped design a pump for the human heart.
Image right: Left Ventricular Assist Device. Credit: NASA
Heart failure affects nearly five million people in the United States. Every month, 300 new patients are added to the waiting list for a heart transplant, but, due to a shortage of donor hearts, only about 150 people receive them.
Engineers from NASA Glenn used their expertise in analyzing rocket engine turbo pumps to help Cleveland Clinic Foundation researchers design a device that keeps heart failure patients' blood pumping while they wait for transplants. The CorAide left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is smaller than previous LVADs, and it automatically adjusts to a patient's activity level.
Arrow International, Inc. licensed the device and is performing clinical trials on it as a temporary solution for patients waiting for new hearts. The company may eventually test it as a transplant alternative that could save thousands of lives every year.