“We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better, stronger, faster.”—the opening line of the 70s hit series “The Bionic Man.” Back then, it was pure fiction to replace body parts with prosthetics or bionics. Today, it’s a reality. However, what if vital organs like the heart and liver were replaced with bionics or prosthetics—could man live longer than 100 years? It’s an interesting question that begs some serious thought.
It’s important to understand what bionic, prosthetic, and artificial organs mean. Bionics are an advanced piece of technology designed to integrate with parts of the human body. A prosthetic is an artificial substitution for a missing body part, such as a limb or an eye. The difference is how they are powered.
An artificial organ is used to replace a defective or missing organ or another part of the human body. Using any of these, theoretically, makes one part man, part machine, but people are living life to the fullest with bionics and prosthetics, thanks to advancements in technology.
Amazing Prosthetics and Bionics
- Hands: Researchers are developing a prosthetic hand that can sense touch using electric signals to the brain.
- Legs: Thought-controlled bionic legs allow for a bionic limb to take directions directly from the mind.
- Ears: Internal implants have helped bring hearing to the deaf for years, but replacing ears has been a challenge, until now, thanks to a 3D printer that makes flexible realistic ears out of real cells.
Artificial organs have made tremendous progress, as well. No longer do you need to be tethered to a device or a source of power.
Vital Organ Advancements
- Heart: Scientists are investigating using stem cells to grow hearts and have had success with turning skin cells into a precursor for cardiovascular tissue.
- Skin: This is probably the most easily damaged of organs (scraping, burns, etc.), but a synthetic replacement skin is in the works that contains organic transistors and elastic so it can stretch without damage.
- Brain: While there will probably never be a day for a brain transplant, scientists have been able to grow a brain equivalent to a 9-week-old fetus, using stem cells, which will prove helpful in learning more about diseases of the brain.
While all of these developments are fascinating, could man live longer than 100 years if we replace vital organs with prosthetics or bionics? The answer is no. While prosthetics and bionics can improve one’s life, artificial vital organs cannot extend the maximum lifespan of humans beyond organismal senescence or biological aging.
Essentially, even if the artificial organ lasted for centuries, cancer, a trauma, or an infection to another part of the body would eventually lead to death. Until the technology reaches the point of reversing biological aging, it’s unlikely that it will happen.
At The Surgery Group of LA, our surgeons and staff make it their mission to help keep you as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Our team has the experience and expertise in a variety of surgical disciplines to serve your medical needs while providing personalized and innovative care. Call us today at (310) 289-1518 to schedule a consultation.