Kathy Oddenino wrote The Hands of Fate almost 50 years ago. The main character is Michael Cappanello, a heart surgeon, whose passionate dream was to create the first artificial heart. Creating a permanent synthetic replacement for this vital organ is one of the holy grails of modern medicine. Like President Kennedy’s bold 1961 pronouncement about the space program and putting a man on the moon, in 1964 the National Institutes of Health started the Artificial Heart Program, with the goal of putting a man-made organ into a human by the end of the decade (New England Journal of Medicine article, 2004). Some inventions were built by doctors and tested in dogs in the 1940s and 1950s, but the Jarvik-7 was the first artificial heart was successfully implanted in a human being in 1982. Hundreds of physicians, engineers, students and faculty developed, tested and improved the artificial heart created by Dr. Willem Johan Kolff. Robert Jarvik was the graduate student manager named by Kolff for the artificial heart project.
The Jarvik-7 has been implanted in more than 800 people as a bridge to transplantation. Since the need for functioning hearts from donors always exceeds supply, there have been continuous incentives (funding) to develop technologies to create this holy grail of a permanent heart replacement. Pumps, electrical assists, and prototypes have been created and used along the way, with varying results. In popular culture examples of heart replacements have been introduced for over a hundred years.
Dr. Michael Cappanello fits easily into this human history, as a man driven by an obsession to make this dream real, for himself, for patients, for mankind. The Hands of Fate is his story of creation and how he creates every aspect of his life, the thrill and the struggle, the love and the need for love, the life and the grief of loss as death as he learns what it means to live.
Dr. Capanello, like every other human being, struggles to understand that the first supreme force, the life force for man is his heart. It is the heart that connects with the spirit energy (or intuitive mind). Learning to use the energy of the spirit/heart is one of the most basic and exciting lessons of our human life. In our physical world, we view freedom as our “right to need,” which we live as a desire, demand, craving, yearning, aching, longing, urging, lusting, coveting, obsession, passion, or greed. Love that is unconditional and without need is what we are learning to accept within ourself first, as we accept the challenge and opportunity to live our own destiny every day of our lives.
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