At the end of a 14-year long project, clinicians and engineers from The Alfred hospital and The Prince Charles Hospital successfully implanted the prototype in a sheep.
The attempt is the first to insert the device inside an animal model, sheep offering the same chest size as women and children.
To raise the $5 million needed to test the device in humans, researchers are ready to launch a crowd-funding campaign called Common Good. When such devices become available, researchers hope to reduce the number of people dying while waiting for heart transplant from human donors.
At the core of the bionic heart is the ability to produce 2,000 revolutions a minute that pump blood throughout the body using a magnetically driven spinning disc with two small blades, with one blade pumping blood around the body and the other to the lungs.
Engineer Dr. Daniel Timms, based in Brisbane, began the project after his father died from heart problems and said the device offers the advantage of being small, less prone to wear and tear compared with other prototypes that used ballon-like sacs to pump blood.
“Proving the concept was the first real hurdle,” Dr Timms said. “It has the potential to last 10 years or longer without wearing out. It’s a paradigm shift.”