(WZZM/WDRB) - We've talked before about how heart disease is the number one killer of men and women.
About 600,000 people die every year of the disease. That's one in every four deaths.
Doctors are working on a medical breakthrough that could save millions of people.
They're getting closer to developing the first heart made from a person's own extra fat.
It's called a bioficial heart. The research is being done in Kentucky at the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute.
A machine called the 'BAT' or bio assembly tool, is used to build pieces of tissue that eventually will be used to build pieces of the bioficial heart.
The patient's tissue comes from extra fat. Dr. Stuart Williams uses the regenerative cells found in the extra fat around the stomach.
"Fifty CCs of fat is two golf ball size pieces of fat," said Williams. "There are enough cells in that fat to rebuild basically all of the major blood vessels in the heart."
From the time the fat tissue is harvested, doctors hope to build a completely new heart in just seven days, piece by piece.
Williams wants the bioficial heart ready for patients in ten years and he says that is possible. He wants to make technology like the artificial heart obsolete.
"Mechanical devices will keep you alive until we regenerate your own tissue and that's what we're talking about here." said Williams.
To learn more about the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute, click here. To learn more about heart disease, click here.