Heart disease is the cause of an estimated 611,000 deaths in the United States every year (Leading Causes of Death, 2015). Despite this astronomical fatality rate the rate of transplants in the US has remained at a steady 2,000 per year (Bowen, J. 2012). The gap between the need for organ transplants and the supply of viable organs has created a demand for alternative to conventional transplants. These alternatives are categorized into three approaches. Repairing approaches that use prosthetics to repair damage, regenerative techniques that use stem cells to heal damage and finally methods that attempt to recreate the damaged organ in a biological medium. These approaches were compared in terms of cost, availability, and effectiveness. The goal of this paper is to create a straightforward comparison with background information and current options to let patients and interested individuals remain up to date on a complex topic. The prediction was that stem cell regenerative techniques would be the premiere option due to their adaptability and relatively easy integration into the body. Despite the initial prediction synthetic prosthetics were found to have the highest degree of effectiveness and overall practicality at the time of writing. The currently available techniques utilizing stem cells do not produce dramatic enough results to be useful in acute myocardial infarctions. Bioprinting and “ghost organs” are intriguing but there are no proven human trials as of writing. Prosthetics are far from perfect but if a conventional heart transplant is not available they are currently the most promising alternative.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 2015


Oliver R. Oakley

Department/Professional Affiliation

Biological Sciences

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars


Biological Sciences