A 33-year-old man died on this date in 1985 after being kept alive for 11 hours by a mechanical device called the Phoenix Heart. The use of the device, an air-driven mechanical heart about the size of a man's fist, was controversial because the Food and Drug Administration had not approved the heart. The man had received a human heart transplant just three days before but when his body rejected it, he was put on a heart-lung machine. When fluid collected in his lungs, the doctors decided to use the Phoenix Heart until a second human heart could be found. The second human heart transplant also failed and the man died. At the time, an FDA spokesperson said charges would probably not be brought against the hospital for using the mechanical heart because the doctors were acting in an emergency situation.
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