You’re looking at a rabbit’s heart beating outside the animal that once hosted it. It’s alive, pumping blood on its own thanks to a revolutionary electronic membrane that may save your life by keeping your heart beating at a perfect rate.
The thin, circuit-lined stretchable membrane has been developed by scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Washington University in St. Louis and may arrive to human hearts in 10 to 15 years.
They custom made it to precisely fit the shape of the rabbit’s heart: First, while the rabbit was still alive, they scanned it and created a 3D model using computer aided tomography. They manufactured the model in a 3D printer, which they used as a mold to create the membrane. After that they took the heart out, applied the membrane, and kept it beating at a perfect pace.
This video shows a rabbit heart that has been kept beating outside of the body in a nutrient and oxygen-rich solution. The new cardiac device — a thin, stretchable membrane imprinted with a spider-web-like network of sensors and electrodes — is custom-designed to fit over the heart and contract and expand with it as it beats.