Britain's latest nuclear power plant is now sustaining the heartbeat of 56-year-old Mrs Constance Ladell of North London.
WOMAN IN GARDEN; PACEMAKER COMPONENTS; DR. POOLE
TRANSCRIPT: REPORTER: "How close in fact to the patient's heart does the unit become implanted?"
DR POOLE: "Well, the position of implantation depends very much on where the surgeon wants to put it and what kind of electrodes he's using. The particular one like this that we've using. The particular one like this that we've used is implanted about here on the right breast, and the connections from it are lead up to the neck and down through a vein into the heart."
REPORTER: "In what way does the pacemaker affect the heart?"
DR POOLE: "The pacemaker supplies a small electrical shock to the heart 70 times a minute and so forces the ventricle to beat in a heart in which the ventricle has otherwise become disconnected from the auricle electrically. The shock is about a 3 to 5-volt shock lasting for a thousandth of a second, so it's really a very minute one."
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Background: Britain's latest nuclear power plant is now sustaining the heartbeat of 56-year-old Mrs Constance Ladell of North London. Designed at Harwell Atomic Research Establishment by Dr. M.J. Poole, the battery power unit for the otherwise conventional heart pacemaker employs a plutonium core designed to last ten years.
Research began on the new power unit about 2 years ago.... at about the same time as similar research was starting in France and America. Harwell scientists, headed by Dr. Poole, were successful in finding a way to convert the heart output from the radio-active source into electricity.
The power call of "plutonium-238" weighs only one-fifth of a gramme, but as the atomic matter begins a gradual process of decay, a constant and reliable heat energy is produced which is converted to power the pacemaker. The complete unit which is said to be perfectly safe to the user has been developed with the help of the British National Heart Hospital and the Atomic Weapons Research Division. Mass-production of the device is expected to begin within 2 years.
At Harwell Dr.Poole spoke to a reporter: -