Heart Transplant

Heart Transplant Photo Credit: Science NetLinks


The heart is the organ that pumps blood to all parts of the body, bringing nutrients and oxygen to the tissues and removing waste products. The critical functions of this vital organ can be affected by such things as coronary heart disease, drug and alcohol abuse, heart valve abnormalities, and heart muscle disease. When the heart is diseased, there are drugs and other therapies and/or surgeries available to help alleviate illness, but a transplant is an option only to remedy the most serious of heart conditions.


Test your heart knowledge by trying the online activity, Heart Stats. As you work through the puzzle, take notes on any facts about the heart that surprise you.

Visit the following websites. As you read the articles, think about the questions below. Jot down notes to help you discuss these questions with your class.

Searching For a Substitute

  • Why is there an interest in substitute heart transplants?
  • When was the first attempt at finding a substitute heart? What happened?
  • Twenty years later, how was Barney Clark’s experience any different?
  • Why do you think the government and public remained averse to artificial hearts after Clark’s death?
  • What is the life expectancy of donated human heart transplant patients today?
  • What are LVADs? Why are they important? Remarkable?
  • What kinds of roles is modern science playing in the realm of substitute heart transplantation?
  • What sorts of complications or issues have surfaced from the use of primate and pig organ transplants?

Amazing Heart Facts

Read through the list of facts and then look at the animation, Map of the Human Heart, to see how blood flows through the heart.

  • What kinds of things did you learn from the Amazing Heart Facts and Map of the Human Heart?
  • Which facts did you find most interesting or enlightening? Why?
  • What is the first step in how the heart moves blood? Second? Third? Etc.
  • What are the benefits of knowing how the heart works?

Treating a Sick Heart

  • What is the primary function of the heart?
  • What determines the rate at which the heart beats?
  • What is meant by “heart failure”?
  • What are the causes of heart disease?
  • How is heart disease treated?

Operation: Heart Transplant

Read the introductory page and then try performing an animated heart transplant in the online operating theater, Operation: Heart Transplant.

  • How did your operations go? What did you think?
  • What was your impression of the level of medicine, science, and technology involved in the operation?
  • If you could, would you observe or take part in such an operation in real life? Why or why not?
  • Which of the steps or instruments did you find most interesting? Challenging? Troubling? Why?
  • What would be your reaction if your patient died?
  • How did performing this operation affect how you feel about heart transplantation or the use of artificial, animal substitutes for human hearts?

Knowledge Check

In a brief essay (1 or 2 pages), describe the function of the heart, how it can be impaired, and what solutions we have for this. Discuss the instances in which a transplant would be a suitable solution for heart disease. Use examples from the notes you took as you explored the websites in this lesson.

This esheet is a part of the Heart 1: Transplant lesson.

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