Although one of the world’s least populated nations, (currently ranked 7th least per square km…)  Australia is home to many famous inventors.  Next time you use an electric drill, latex gloves, notepad, pre-paid postage, Xerox machine, wi-fi, dual flush toilet, refrigerator, electronic pacemaker, penicillin, or free-style swim, you are using an Australian invention!   As the FLL season goes by, I am learning more about the biomedical achievements Aussies have made, and are making, in this field.

Cochlear implants are a major type of bionic ear.  The implants were invented by Australian Dr. Graeme Clark and were first implanted in 1978.  The company has continued to grow with new devices coming out all the time.  Over 12,00 children have implants in Australia and New Zealand, and 200,000 people around the world have benefited from the device.

Fiona Coote was the second, and youngest, Australian to receive a heart transplant in April 1984 when she was 14.  When she received the heart, she was expected to live less than 5 years.  Two years later, her immune system rejected the donor heart and she had to receive a second donor heart.   Now 40 years old, Fiona Coote is the longest surviving heart transplant patient in the southern hemisphere and still the youngest Australian to have a heart transplant.

But that’s not all!  Other notable Australian biomedical advances include electronic pacemakers and penicillin.  So, the next time you meet someone who has a bionic ear, heart transplant, pacemaker, or has benefited from penicillin, remember to thank an Aussie!