Skip to main content

Artificial Hearts – The Bridge to Survival

Exhibition on the history of the artificial heart in the Josephinum
All News
Bene Croy/Josephinum
"New Viennese Artificial Heart"

(Vienna, 24 April 2017) The artificial heart programme started at the Department of Surgery II in 1967 went on to make Vienna an international centre for the development and testing of heart assist pumps. Today thousands of the rotary pumps that were jointly developed in Vienna are fitted every year worldwide. This internationally pioneering research achievement is now to be featured in its own exhibition in the Josephinum (5 May – 7 October 2017) under the title of the "Bridge to Survival". The exhibition will be supplemented by artefacts from the history of medicine and interventions by contemporary artists.

"The Josephinum is once again portraying its role as the cradle of academic surgery, with an influence that extends into the present day," says Josephinum Director Christiane Druml, "our special display focuses on the heart as the most important organ, both emotionally and medically." The Vienna artificial heart programme for providing mechanical circulatory support started 50 years ago with the appointment of pioneering cardiac surgeon Jan Navratil at the Department of Surgery II. After partial successes with the intra-aortal balloon pump, the following years saw the development of the ellipsoid heart as a total heart replacement. This was then refined to produce the “Vienna heart".

Rotary pumps in Vienna since 1998
The Vienna group also played a pioneering role in the concept of much smaller, high-speed rotary pumps, which are now the measure of all things related to cardiac support. The breakthrough in rotary pumps for human patients came in 1998, in Berlin and Vienna. Today thousands of patients worldwide are fitted with these rotary pumps. The long-term clinical results are now so good that the new rotary pumps are increasingly being used instead of heart transplants. More and more people are now managing to enjoy a good quality of life for 5 years or more with a pump of this kind.

Exhibition in the Josephinum
The Vienna artificial heart programme evolved over the years to become one of the largest in Europe. Today thousands of the rotary pumps that were jointly developed in Vienna are fitted every year worldwide. This internationally pioneering research achievement is now to be featured in its own exhibition in the Josephinum, entitled "Bridge to Survival".

The presentation of these huge scientific achievements and the impressive artificial hearts from Vienna General Hospital will be supplemented by historical medical exhibits from the Josephinum. Also on display for the very first time will be the Josephinian coloured drawings depicting the open heart, which date from the founding of the Josephinum at the end of the 18th century and were revolutionary in their day. There will also be interventions by contemporary artists relating in their different ways to the theme of the heart, some of these works having been created specifically for the exhibition.

Artificial Hearts – The Bridge to Survival
with interventions by Judith Fegerl / Peter Garmusch / Stephanie Pflaum / Samuel Schaab / Anna Witt
Josephinum, Währinger Straße 25, 1090 Vienna
5 May 2017 to 7 October 2017
Wed. 16:00 – 20:00 hrs, Fri. Sat. 10:00 – 18:00 hrs