Friday, August 20, 2010

Everything comes in a box

Northwestern Memorial Hospital is currently performing lots of renovations. I'm not sure what all they are working on but there are lots of hallways closed. Particularly inconvenient was the blockade on our way to the cafeteria from the MICU:(. Another side effect of the renovations is that there are boxes everywhere. Usually Northwestern is spic and span but lately there seem to boxes all over! On my way up to the MICU last week, someone got off on the Cardiology Critical Care Unit, and I saw a Tandem Heart box. Looking at that box, it really struck me that virtually everything comes in a box. Being married to a designer, I tend to pay a little extra attention to logos, fonts, and packaging. But it still blew me away a little that a Tandem Heart comes in a cardboard box like everything else!

A Tandem Heart is a "cardiac assist" device that basically does the work of pumping blood through the heart when the heart is too weak pump itself. The system is very complex but basically there is a centrifugal pump placed on the right thigh that is connected to the femoral artery and vein and serves to pull oxygenated blood from the left atrium to the aorta so that the left ventricle doesn't have to do any work (the most common type of heart failure is left ventricular failure). It can be used when people have massive heart attacks or when people with end-stage heart failure whose hearts are working at only 5-10% capacity need an interim solution while they wait for heart transplants. For those who follow Grey's Anatomy, the Tandem Heart is a similar device to that Izzie's boyfriend, Dennie, had before he died. Though the papers tried to be coy and evasive about former vice president Dick Cheney's recent hospitalization, I think he is pretty close to needing a device like a Tandem Heart.

So, a Tandem Heart is probably one of our most advanced pieces of medical technology, essentially a mechanical heart, and it still comes in a nice cardboard box with a "Tandem Heart" logo. Give it a few years and we'll be able to buy them with free shipping on!

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