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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville doctors are working on a medical breakthrough that could save millions of lives. They're getting closer to developing the world's first bioficial heart.
Heart disease is the number 1 killer in the United States. It is the reason for 75 percent of all deaths in the state of Kentucky. It's also the disease the killed Dr. Stuart Williams parents.
"That's one reason I get up in the morning because I lost my parents from it and I've got bad genes so I've got a personal interest vested in it," says Williams.
Dr. Williams is the Director of the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute in downtown Louisville. It's where he's working on developing the bioficial heart, an advancement, which he believes, could have saved his parents' lives.
"The term total bioficial heart really started here in Louisville," says Williams.
A bioficial heart is built using a patient's own cells and tissue.
"You take tissue from a patient isolate the cells, because we're all made up of just billions and billions of cells put those cells into a machine, hit a button and it will print out a heart," says Williams.
The heart is built using the regenerative cells found in a person's own extra fat around the stomach.
"Fifty CCs of fat is two golf ball size pieces of fat and there are enough cells in that fat to rebuild basically all of the major blood vessels in the heart," Williams describes.
From the time the fat tissue is harvested, doctors hope to build a completely new heart in just 7 days, piece by piece.
"If you think about building an airplane what you do is build individual parts and then assemble… We're doing the exact same thing with the bioficial heart," the doctor says.
Williams wants the bioficial heart ready for patients in 10 years. He says it's possible.
"Absolutely. If you don't believe in it you'll never make it there," says Williams.
If the doctors at the C-I-I do it, the bioficial heart would save millions of lives and millions of dollars. Treating heart disease is the number one healthcare cost in America. Williams wants to make technology like the artificial heart obsolete.
"Mechanical devices will keep you alive until we regenerate your own tissue and that's what we're talking about here," says Williams.
Clinical trials are already being performed on bioficial blood vessels. Dr. Williams says, if we can put a man on the moon, we can figure out how to build a heart. His team is determined to do it.