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Binary vascular system

A scan taken by Kate Stewart reveals both the Doctor's hearts. (TV: The Power of Three)

A binary vascular system was a type of circulatory system in which the blood vessels led to two hearts. Time Lords had a binary vascular system. (TV: Spearhead from Space, etc.)


According to the Twelfth Doctor, a binary vascular system led to extremely high blood pressure in comparison to single-hearted species like humans. (TV: Smile) The Dominator Rago once told Jamie McCrimmon that beings with single hearts were physically weaker than those with two hearts. (TV: The Dominators) Given the multiple hearts, Time Lords also had two sets of pulses, as exhibited by the Thirteenth Doctor. (TV: The Woman Who Fell to Earth) The Seventh Doctor used his knowledge of these pulses to attempt to see if his companion Mel was in fact the First Rani in disguise. (TV: Time and the Rani)

When the Fifth Doctor was stabbed in the chest, he survived without the need to regenerate because his human, single-hearted attacker aimed for the spot where the human heart would be, but the Doctor's two hearts were in a slightly different location. (AUDIO: Son of the Dragon) Scans of the Ninth Doctor's hearts and later those of the Eleventh Doctor and Thirteenth Doctor hearts showed that the hearts changed position during regeneration at some point. (TV: Dalek, The Power of Three, Kerblam!, Resolution)

The Master was plagued with a drumming sound which subsequently drove him mad. These "drums" were said to have been the sound of the heartbeat of a Time Lord. (TV: The Sound of Drums, The End of Time)

The Meta-Crisis Tenth Doctor stated that he could not regenerate due to only possessing a single heart. (TVJourney's End)

A Gallifreyan in cardiac arrest needed CPR on both hearts; otherwise, it would prove ineffective. (TV: Smith and Jones) Amy Pond used a defibrillator to restart one of the Eleventh Doctor's hearts. (TV: The Power of Three)

Cybermen could detect a binary vascular system, prompting them to take the subject for further analysis, which at least delayed cyber-conversion. In Pete's World, the native Cybermen were unfamiliar with the Tenth Doctor's binary vascular system and classed it as an "unknown upgrade". (TV: The Age of Steel)

In Time Lords[]

Ninth Doctor's Binary Vascular System

The Ninth Doctor's hearts, side by side. (TV: Dalek)

Time Lords' second hearts were not merely a biological quirk, but were their metaphysical tie to Gallifrey itself. Keeping them connected to Gallifrey at the centre of the Web of Time, it was the possession of this second heart with allowed them to easily navigate deep time without adverse effects to their own wellbeing. (PROSE: The Adventuress of Henrietta Street)

A Time Lord's regenerative process was intimately linked to his or her hearts. Time Lords from Oldblood Houses had only one heart until they regenerated for the first time; (PROSE: The Man in the Velvet Mask, Christmas on a Rational Planet, AUDIO: Time in Office) the First Doctor was seen to have one heart, (TV: The Edge of Destruction) however early accounts showed that the Doctor, was in fact, human. (TV: The Sensorites, PROSE: The Dream Masters, The Lair of Zarbi Supremo, etc.) In contrast, members of Newblood Houses were Loomed with both hearts. (PROSE: Christmas on a Rational Planet)

Regeneration could be completely stopped — and the Time Lord was therefore killed immediately, regardless of how many lives they had left — if both hearts were pierced or shot simultaneously. Andred and Serena were both killed in this manner, (AUDIO: Imperiatrix, PROSE: World Game) while Cavis was permanently killed when, during regeneration, her enemy stabbed both her original heart and the place where the second one would grow. (PROSE: The Shadows of Avalon) The Bruce Master, having already gravely wounded the Eighth Doctor by shooting him in one of his hearts, threatened to take out the other if he attempted to regenerate. (AUDIO: Day of the Master) Brooke 2 of the Kovarian Chapter carried a regeneration inhibitor firearm capable of producing double blasts to take out a binary vascular system, which she used to kill H-One. (AUDIO: The Furies) Missy recommended eight snipers, with three trained on each of her hearts and two for her brain stem, so that Clara Oswald could feel safe while speaking to her, noting that they'd have to "switch [her] off fast" before she could regenerate. (TV: The Magician's Apprentice)


A Shakespearean villain - Doctor Who - The Shakespeare Code - BBC

The Tenth Doctor survives a blow to his left heart because he had another. (TV: The Shakespeare Code)

A Gallifreyan could survive with only one heart, though he or she would be weakened greatly. (PROSE: Managra, TV: The Shakespeare Code, AUDIO: City of Spires) When one of the Third Doctor's hearts momentarily stopped, the Master warned him he was "within an inch of dying." (TV: The Mind of Evil) After the Eighth Doctor's second heart was extracted from his chest, he was unable to process drugs or use his respiratory bypass system, and to compensate, his remaining heart had to beat at a worryingly rapid pulse and was prone to fatigue. (PROSE: The Adventuress of Henrietta Street, Hope, Anachrophobia) During the Last Great Time War, at least one Time Lord spy had her second heart removed from her body. (AUDIO: A Heart on Both Sides) One of the Tenth Doctor's hearts stopped beating while he was recovering from regeneration, (TV: The Christmas Invasion) and the Eleventh Doctor claimed that he wouldn't survive much longer after one of his hearts was stopped by a Shakri cube. (TV: The Power of Three) The Eleventh Doctor once thanked a group of humans for helping him from the "bottoms of his hearts". (PROSE: Hello!)

When Sabbath implanted the Eighth Doctor's second heart in his own chest, it endowed him with the ability to penetrate "deep time" (i.e., travelling further away from his homeworld than should be possible), simultaneously creating a link between the Doctor and Sabbath that meant that the Doctor would survive grievous wounds as his heart was still beating in Sabbath, until Sabbath tore the heart out of his own chest, its "death" allowing the Doctor to grow a new one. (PROSE: The Adventuress of Henrietta Street, Hope, Camera Obscura)

In other species[]

As Time Lords from an alternate timeline, the Word Lords also had a binary vascular system. (AUDIO: The Word Lord)

In the Mutter's Spiral galaxy, a few monopod species and a drone species had two hearts. (PROSE: Tragedy Day)

The Second Doctor once encountered another double-hearted humanoid species called the Dulcians. His own binary vascular system led the Dominators to believe he was a Dulcian. (TV: The Dominators)

The Tremas Master, in his stolen Trakenite body, was recognised by the medical robot 2B to have a "dual circulatory system", though he was disguising himself as the Fourth Doctor at the time. (PROSE: A Master of Disguise)

The Eighth Doctor met the Kulan, another race whose overall stamina seemed to be improved over humans by their two hearts. (PROSE: Escape Velocity)

The Kirithons were genetically engineered by the Panjistri to have two hearts. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Apocalypse)

The Apalapucians, residents of Apalapucia, had two hearts. Chen-7, also known as the 1 Day Plague, only affected species with binary vascular systems. (TV: The Girl Who Waited)

The inhabitants of Skale had two hearts. (PROSE: Parallel 59)

When Henry van Statten performed an invasive scan of the Ninth Doctor in 2012, he marvelled at the design and enthusiastically announced he was going to patent it. (TV: Dalek) Humans genetically introduced a second heart many Segments prior to circa 10,000,000. (PROSE: The Ark)

Baris, a fan of the Tenth Doctor, had a second heart fitted so he could resemble him more. (PROSE: The Doctor Trap)

One of Meepkind, the Meep had two hearts. (TV: The Star Beast [+]Russell T Davies, adapted from Doctor Who and the Star Beast (Pat Mills and John Wagner), Doctor Who 2023 specials (BBC One and Disney+, 2023).)

Behind the scenes[]

Christiaan Barnard, the surgeon who performed the first human-to-human heart transplant, also created the heterotopic heart transplant (also known as piggybank transplant), in which instead of removing the faulty heart, a second heart is added, effectively creating a binary vascular system in the patient being operated upon. This surgery is very rare, being rendered largely obsolete as cardiothoracic surgery has become more advanced. Today is usually used as a placeholder before a more permanent transplant can be carried out, but a small number of humans are indeed a little bit closer to being a Time Lord than most of us.

Information from invalid sources[]

Marceline the Vampire Queen once asked the Doctor if she could drink one of his hearts, believing that he did not need both of them. (GAME: LEGO Dimensions)