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In the world of medicine, one of the greatest advancements has been the ability to create artificial organs that are able to restore the proper function of a patient’s body. They can be used both for functions that are essential to life and also for purposes that are not related to survival but do improve a person’s quality of life. The organs that can be replaced artificially are quite numerous, including the ears, ovaries, and even the heart and brain.
Perhaps the most common manifestation of an artificial organ is found with mechanical aids that are used to improve a person’s ability to hear and distinguish sounds. Called cochlear implants, the organs have been successful with nearly 200,000 people across the globe. In addition to improving the sense of hearing in those patients with impaired ears, the artificial organs are also able to provide a limited hearing ability to people who are deaf. As this device becomes less expensive and more available, it is thought that the worldwide incidence of deafness will decrease dramatically.
One case of a survival situation where an artificial organ will make the difference between life and death is in a heart transplant. If a patient is awaiting a new heart, an artificial heart can be temporarily used to keep the person alive until the new heart becomes available. In recent times, models have been created that can stand alone and provide a permanent replacement for a heart that has functional impairment. This new type of artificial heart is currently in the process of being evaluated and it is thought that it will be ready for widespread live use beginning in the year 2013. The availability of artificial organs can do much to improve a person’s life, from providing the essential bodily functions for survival to improving sensory capabilities, such as sight and hearing.