The ‘heartless man’: surviving without a heart or a pulse

Two doctors have proved that you don't need a heart to survive. You don't even need a pulse.

Last March, Craig Lewis was dying from amyloidosis and had just 12 hours left to live. Texas Heart Institute's doctors Billy Cohn and Bud Frazier saved him with a successful "continuous flow" heart replacement device transplant with no actual heart included.

Their story was documented in the short film "Heart Stop Beating."

DesignTAXI describes the innovative device as "turbine-like" whirling rotors that provide "a 'continuous flow' like a garden hose" rather than beat like a heart.

When doctors put a stethoscope to Lewis' chest, no heartbeat or pulse could be heard, just a humming sound. According to "all criteria that we conventionally use to analyze patients" Lewis could be considered dead, Cohn said.

Yet, Lewis lived for a month without a heart.

While his heart didn't kill him, the amyloidosis unfortunately attacked the man's liver and kidneys. The pumps "worked flawlessly," but Lewis still succumbed to the disease in April.

"We knew if it wasn't a success for Craig, if they could get data that would help them, if it helps the next person, then you did good," Lewis's widow, Linda, told NPR.

Science is amazing.