A picture of Dr. William S. Pierce.  Click for 300 DPI version.

William S. Pierce

M.D. University of Pennsylvania, 1962
Evan Pugh Professor Emeritus of Surgery

Surgery, C4643
Hershey Medical Center

A group of physicians, engineers and veterinarians was established at Penn State in 1970 to develop a mechanical circulatory assist pump and an artificial heart for use in patients. A paracorporeal sac-type assist pump has been developed and thoroughly characterized on the laboratory bench. The ventricular assist pump has become a valuable adjuvant to cardiac transplantation programs. Between 15 and 20 percent of patients who are cardiac transplant candidates develop severe ventricular failure before a suitable donor heart can be located. To date, the ventricular assist pump designed at our facility has been used as a "bridge" to cardiac transplantation in approximately 600 patients in the United States and abroad. Seventy-six percent of these patients have received transplants and 53 percent of these patients have survived.

As an extension of the short term pumping program, a totally implantable motor-driven left ventricular assist pump is being developed. This unit employs sophisticated state-of-the-art electronics and is now undergoing both bench and animal studies. Clinical implantation will be performed within the next year. An extension of this program involves the use of an implantable, motor-driven total artificial heart with a compact motor positioned between the left and right ventricles. A sophisticated control system has been designed and is functional. Animal studies have been initiated and survival has been extended to 13 months, a record for the implanted motor-driven artificial heart.

These programs have been funded by the National Institutes of Health, The Penn State Foundation, the H.G.Barsumian, M.D. Memorial Fund and private gifts from Mrs. Ruth Lewis.

Representative Publications:

1. Rosenberg G, Snyder A, Weiss W, Mehta S, Felder G, Kusagawa H and Pierce WS: A reduced sized implantable artificial heart for women and small men. Am. Soc. Artif. Intern. Organs Abstracts 42(2): 7, 1996.

2. Snyder AJ, Pierce WS, Rosenberg G, Weiss WJ and Runt J: Progress in the development of an innovative ventricular assist system. Am. Soc. Artif. Intern. Organs Abstracts 42(2): 13 1, March-April, 1996.

3. Weiss W, Rosenberg G, Snyder A, Rawhouser M, Pierce WS, Kusagawa H, Mehta S, Marlotte J, Nazarian R, Ford S, Hicks D: Recent improvements in the completely implanted total artificial heart. Am. Soc. Artif. Intern. Organs Abstracts 42(2): 9, 1996.

4. Pierce WS: Chapter 54: The Artificial Heart. In, Textbook of Surgery: The Biological Basis of Modern Surgical Practice. 15th Edition. Ed., D.C. Sabiston, Jr. W.B.Saunders Co., Armonk, New York. 1997. Pages 2228-2232.

5. Richenbacher WE and Pierce WS: Chapter 19: Assisted Circulation and the Mechanical Heart. In, Heart Disease. Fifth Edition. Ed., E. Braunwald, M.D. W.B. Saunders Co., Orlando, Florida. 1996. Pages 534-547.