Artificial Human Organs (From Emile KAHOUN, Lycee Yadega)
Bionics is a fusion of biology and electronics. Biologists and electronic engineers put their energy together to design devices that resemble and can replace body organs. The term first came into use in the 1960s but bionic devices have existed for ages. Modern bionics is specially interested in devices that are substitutes for body organs lost through accidents or that function badly due to infection or genetic disorders.
In 1934, the first artificial heart-and-lung machine started operating. As a bionic device, it was used as a temporary substitute while the patient was in surgery or under short-term treatment.
Another bionic device was the artificial heart valve. This is a synthetic replacement for malfunctioning heart valves. The electronic "pacemaker" was the next bionic achievement. It is a gadget implanted in the body to facilitate the beating of an ailing heart.
In 1954, the first open heart surgery was carried out in Minnesota, USA, by Dr C. W. Lillehei. The patient was operated upon while blood was supplied to him directly from a donor.
In 1983, a team of doctors at the University of Utah Medical Centre, USA, replaced the diseased heart of Dr Barney Clark with a mechanical one. He amazingly managed to survive for 112 days after the operation.
Recent progress in electronics has enabled scientists to develop an artificial eye in which signals are transmitted into light patterns that are sent into nerve receptors in the patient. Though a young science, the future of bionics is both promising and exciting. Definitely, existing bionic devices will be perfected to smaller, faster and more efficient ones. The success in replacing the Dr B. Clark's heart will trigger the fabrication of other devices like bionic livers, stomachs, lungs and kidneys.
Then hopefully, patients who, for religious, ethical, or medical reasons do not or cannot receive these vital organs from other animals or humans, might be better served.
From Applied Science: Short reading in Sciences by Dean Curry, 1988.
To trigger: to start.
1. According to the text, what is a bionic device? (2 marks)
2. Referring to the text, which organs can be replaced by bionic devices? (3 marks)
3. Referring to the text, which of the devices is the most important? Justify your answer. (4 marks)
4. Do you think that it will be possible to produce artificial human organs? (5 marks)
5. Some patients refuse all medical treatment on religious ground. What's your reaction to that? (6 marks)