Being on heart bypass is a serious and potentially life-threatening situation. It is usually only used as a temporary measure while the patient is awaiting a heart transplant or while the heart is being repaired surgically.
During a heart bypass procedure, a machine called a cardiopulmonary bypass pump is used to take over the function of the heart and lungs. The blood is routed out of the body, oxygenated by the machine, and then returned to the body. This allows the heart and lungs to rest and recover, or for surgeons to operate on the heart without the patient suffering from a lack of oxygen.
Being on bypass can have significant risks and complications. These can include bleeding, infection, kidney failure, stroke, and damage to the brain or other organs due to a lack of oxygen. There can also be long-term effects on the body, such as weakness and fatigue, due to the strain placed on the body during bypass.
It's possible for a patient to stay alive on heart/lung bypass for a few hours or days. This means that it's possible to be alive and awake without a heart. Medical TV shows like House, MD have used this uncanny situation to add tension and drama to a story.
The idea of being alive without a heart can be unsettling to some people because it goes against our fundamental understanding of how the body works. In reality, the heart is a vital organ that pumps blood and oxygen to the rest of the body, and we rely on it to survive. When we see a character on a TV show or movie who is alive without a heart, it can be jarring and unsettling because it goes against our expectations and understanding of the way things should be.
There are several books and TV shows that have used heart bypass procedures as a plot device. Here are some examples:
- "Grey's Anatomy": This medical drama TV show has featured several storylines involving heart bypass surgery, including a patient who was on bypass while waiting for a heart transplant and a character who had to undergo bypass surgery after suffering a heart attack.
- "Critical Care" by Richard Dooling: This medical thriller novel follows the story of a doctor who becomes embroiled in a legal and ethical dilemma when a wealthy patient refuses to allow him to take her off bypass and demands a heart transplant.
- "The Surgeon" by Tess Gerritsen: In this medical thriller novel, a young woman who is on bypass after a heart attack becomes the target of a serial killer who is targeting patients in the hospital.
- "St. Elsewhere": This medical drama TV show featured a storyline in which a patient was kept alive on bypass for an extended period of time while waiting for a heart transplant.
- "The Heart" by Maylis de Kerangal: This novel follows the story of a young man who is declared brain dead after a car accident and the journey of his heart as it is transplanted into the body of a recipient. The novel explores the emotional and ethical issues surrounding organ transplantation and the effects it can have on both the donor and recipient families.
- "Strong Medicine": This medical drama TV show featured a storyline in which a patient was kept alive on bypass while waiting for a heart transplant. The patient's family struggled with the decision of whether to keep the patient on bypass or allow them to die.
- "The Heart" by Gilbert Morris: This medical thriller novel follows the story of a heart transplant surgeon who becomes caught up in a conspiracy involving organ theft and murder.