World-renowned physician and inventor Dr. Willem J. Kolff was with Cleveland Clinic from 1950 to 1967.
A native of the Netherlands, Dr. Kolff is known as the Father of Artificial Organs and considered one of the most influential and important physicians of the 20th century. In addition to winning more than 120 international awards, Dr. Kolff was co-nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2003 (he died in 2009).
At Cleveland Clinic in 1957, Dr. Kolff implanted an artificial heart into a dog, which went on to live for 90 minutes. He continued to work on the development of the artificial heart at Cleveland Clinic and later at the University of Utah. His work led to the first artificial heart being implanted successfully in a human in 1982.
Today, artificial hearts are considered a success, however, they are limited to patients awaiting transplants whose death is imminent. The current state-of-the-art devices can sustain life reliably for about a year and a half.