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Cambridge University Press




The death of William Schroeder in Louisville, Kentucky, on August 6, 1986, brought to a close a remarkable chapter in public human experimentation. Artificial heart implants represent the most public experiments in the history of the world. The manner in which they are conducted is a matter of utmost public and professional concern, since it graphically portrays the seriousness with which we take our laws and ethical rules regarding the protection of the rights and welfare of human subjects. Unfortunately, the brief history of artificial heart implants is neither a happy nor a proud one. Begun with high hopes and therapeutic intentions with the Barney Clark implant, the permanent procedures rapidly became little more than publicity stunts used to advertise Humana, Inc., a for-profit hospital chain. Indeed, on the night Mr. Schroeder died, Humana Hospital Audubon sent its public relations director to justify the experiment to a national television audience on Nightline, apparently because no physician at the hospital was willing or able to publicly defend the experiment.

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