This article was fascinating from beginning to end.
“Rare-earth magnets!” Cohn cried, straining to pull one free. He put it in my hand. It was the size of a pencil eraser, and when I loosened my grip, it shot like a bullet to the file cabinet with a clang. “Extremely powerful.” Cohn has pioneered the use of rare-earth magnets to move catheters into place deep inside the body. He avoids having to cut patients open by threading the magnets, and their tiny loads, up through arteries. He pawed several sheets of paper off the floor and drew diagrams on their unused backs, launching an hour-long discourse on the instruments and procedures he’s built around miniature magnets.
Building a heart that mimics nature's lub-dub may be as comically shortsighted as Leonardo Da Vinci designing a flying machine with flapping wings.On his wall hung four metal serving spoons of the kind you might see on a cafeteria line. One was intact; the other three had intricate slots cut in them. Years ago, Cohn butchered the spoons in his home garage to solve the problem of holding a heart still while operating on it. The standard way, at the time, was to shut off the heart altogether and put the patient on a heart-lung machine. But that was risky. Cohn’s spoons let surgeons hold a heart in place while still giving them access to the parts they needed to slice or stitch. Through the custom-cut slots, the surface of the heart would emerge and hold still for tinkering, even while the rest of the heart thrashed around under the spoon. Cohn refined the idea and sold it to a medical-devices company, which has marketed the tools worldwide.
I love genius/crazy scientists who push forward the state of the art.