Forrest Anderson  /  AP file
Dr. Robert Jarvik, inventor of the artificial heart, Jarvik-7, holds up a model like the one implanted in Barney Clark in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1982.
updated 1/12/2007 9:18:26 AM ET 2007-01-12T14:18:26

The pioneering artificial heart developed by Dr. Robert Jarvik will go on display at the Smithsonian Institution next month.

“As an item of historic interest, this is the only time the public has had a chance to look at it,” Jarvik said of the heart implanted in dentist Barney Clark in 1982.

“Unfortunately, a lot of people who go see it will have been children at the time it was used,” he commented in a telephone interview Thursday. “A lot of years have gone by.”

Jarvik donated one of his newer artificial hearts to the National Museum of American History and is lending the museum the heart that kept Clark alive for 112 days.

Although the history museum is closed for renovations, the hearts will be displayed during February at a special “Treasures of American History” exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian spokeswoman Melinda Machado said.

“Dr. Jarvik’s innovations have helped shape the history of medicine,” museum director Brent D. Glass said in a statement. “This donation is a wonderful addition to our collections representing American ingenuity and innovations.”

Jarvik said Smithsonian historians had visited him in New York to film his collection of artificial hearts.

“We laid them out in a sort of evolutionary tree, we had the table covered with different prototypes showing how one idea led to the next,” he said. Some were dead ends and others led to better hearts.

He said the historians requested a donation and he agreed to give them a Jarvik 2000 FlowMaker and to lend the museum the earlier model that had been used in Clark.

“That’s never been publicly shown or exhibited,” he said.

The American history museum has a collection of historical artificial organs and assist devices, including the Liotta-Cooley artificial heart, the first temporary artificial heart implanted in a human.

The Liotta-Cooley heart was developed by Domingo Liotta and implanted by surgeon Denton Cooley on April 4, 1969. The recipient, Haskell Karp, lived for 64 hours with the artificial heart until a human heart was available for transplant.

The Jarvik 7 was the first permanent artificial heart implanted in a human.

In the United States, his Jarvik 2000 model has been approved for trials to buy time for heart transplant patients. In Europe, it has been used as a permanent heart replacement. Peter Houghton of Birmingham, England, had such a pump surgically implanted in his heart more than 6½ years ago and is the longest-living patient with such a device.

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