Last November a patient in Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago was near death due to heart failure and Dr. Edwin McGee Jr. implanted a small device called a BiVad. It's a ventricular assist device (bi-ventricular assist device) that keeps the heart pumping in patients with failing hearts. One of the biggest advantages to patients is that the device is implanted inside the patients chest. Implanting the device does not involve cutting open the heart of the patient, a negative associated with other types of artificial implants. At the time of the implant last November only a dozen or so had been done in Europe, and the one done at Northwestern was done so without the approval of the FDA under the "emergency guidelines" exception which basically lets doctors perform these sort of procedures as a last resort without having to wait for approval.
Hundreds of thousands of people die from heart failure every year. It is these types of devices, and the research happening to clone heart tissue and grow new hearts that holds so much promise for the future. My brother is in stage 3 heart failure and he is 32 years old. I sure hope they're able to find something to do for him to extend his time on earth without making him too uncomfortable.