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July 15, 1988

The Permanent Artificial Heart

Author Affiliations

Koloa, Hawaii

Koloa, Hawaii

JAMA. 1988;260(3):343. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03410030058026

To the Editor.—  I would concur that an artificial heart1 might be useful in certain cases as an emergency device for a patient awaiting a transplant. However, I am bothered by the cavalier treatment of costs. Disregarding the developmental costs, which are a tax write-off, I believe we should know the costs of the preoperative workup, the operation, the first two weeks after operation, the daily maintenance, the laboratory tests, and the burden on the family. I would suspect that such costs would approximate half a million dollars or more.I was concerned by this statement on page 858: "It is also clear that the total artificial heart is feasible and practical and durable and offers life to those who would not otherwise be able to continue living." The inference in this statement is that it will become as common as dialysis and available to as many people and