Dr. Billy Cohn and Dr. Bud Frazier, from the Texas Heart Institute, saved Craig Lewis, 55, from dying of amyloidosis – a life threatening heart condition that fills internal organs with a viscous protein that causes rapid heart beat and kidney and liver failure. When even a pacemaker failed to save his life and he just had 12 hours to live, the two doctors removed Lewis’ heart and installed a ‘continuous flow’ device that allowed blood to circulate his body without a pulse!
The doctors first tested the device on nearly 70 calves. They removed the animals’ hearts and by the next day, the calves were doing everything they were the day before – eating, sleeping, and moving – but this time, without a heart pumping blood through their bodies.
After the 48-hour long surgery, Lewis’ wife was astonished when she tried to listen to his pulse. “I listened and it was a hum, which was amazing. He didn’t have a pulse,” she told NPR. His kidneys and liver, however, failed him and after a few months his family asked the doctors to unplug the device.
Dr. Cohn and Dr. Frazier proved that life is possible without a pulse or a heartbeat. “Heart Stop Beating” is the story of these two doctors and the process they had to go through to replace Lewis’ dying heart with a ‘continuous flow’ device.