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Wireless heart pump to save countless lives

Credit: Queensland University of Technology

The first beneficiary of the Roland Bishop bequest to the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), in Australia, is a new wireless heart pump that can potentially save countless lives.

According to a recent press release, a small team is working on developing a wireless system to power ventricular assist devices (VADs).

VADs are mechanical heart-support devices that help the hearts of patients to keep pumping while they wait for a transplant or recover from cardiac surgery.

Pumps help keep the blood flowing for failing hearts that cannot move blood on its own. But in order to power these devices, a cable is required to run from the heart pump, through the skin, to a battery.

This setup is a potential source of infection, which the team of Professor Mahinda Vilathgamuwa is trying to address.

The wireless power transfer system developed at the University reduces the risk of infection, eliminating the need to break the skin in order to power the pump.

A small copper coil receiver is implanted inside the body with a transmitter and battery worn in a holster or a jacket.

In tests, it has achieved 94% efficiency in powering a commercial heart pump.

The bequest will enable the team to progress the system to clinical trials.

The research closely aligns with the passions of the man behind the generous bequest.

Having graduated in 1968 as an electrician from the University’s predecessor institution, the Central Technical College, Roland Bishop championed the development of medical device technology for critically ill heart patients.

He led the Prince Charles Hospital’s Medical Electronics Division.

Aside from the wirelessly powered heart pump, the A$ 254,000 bequest will also support the development of a Robotic Musculoskeletal Simulator and the Roland Bishop Biomedical Engineering Research Award.

The University’s Chair of Biomedical Engineering will lead the Robotic Musculoskeletal Simulator project in collaboration with an orthopaedic surgeon and a Mechatronics expert from the University of Western Ontario.

When built, the robotic system will mimic dynamic muscle movement, as well as motion within joints to accurately reproduce the conditions experienced by the human body during daily activities.

Research conducted with the Robotic Musculoskeletal Simulator will lead to better design and testing of medical implants, novel surgical procedures and physiotherapy treatments.

The ultimate goal is to improve lives through facilitating greater understanding of the effect of various surgical procedures and implants to enable better decision making by surgeons.

The Roland Bishop Biomedical Engineering Research Award will be a lasting tribute to the person, which the award is named after, and his dedication to the improvement of medical devices.

To be awarded for the first time in 2019, it will provide a valuable funding boost for researchers to accelerate medical technological advances to enhance the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities.

Gifts such as this bequest have the power to unlock the knowledge that is needed to benefit the nation and the world around.

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