The surgeon who designed prosthetic hearts

Giants in History: A Japanese surgeon, Tetsuzo Akutsu (20 August 1922 – 9 August 2007) built the first artificial heart capable of keeping an animal alive.

Akutsu was a member of the artificial heart team, led by Willem Kolff, at the Cleveland Clinic. Akutsu was Kolff’s chief collaborator and designed models of artificial hearts to pump blood using an air-driven system. In 1957, the group implanted an artificial heart in an animal that lived for 90 minutes. This was the first successful experimental implant of a total prosthetic heart in the United States. Akutsu’s work contributed to the implantation of the second artificial heart in a human being in 1981.