The First Artificial Hearts Were the Size of a Hot Dog Stand

By Jamie Condliffe on at

It might look more like something a street vendor would serve up food from, but, believe it or not, this is one of the first ever artificial hearts.

This monstrous lump of metal was designed to temporarily stand in for a human heart, pumping blood around the body until a patient's actual ticker was once more up to the job. Known as the Mayo-Gibbon heart-lung machine, it was built in 1957 and is considered the forefather of modern heart bypass machines.

It's now housed at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington D.C., and has just been made available to view online. Which means you'll have to provide your own mustard. [Smithsonian via New Scientist]