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Dr. Antonio Amodeo  (Source: EPA)
The 10 hour operation has given him 20-25 additional years of life

A 15-year-old boy from Italy is now the first child patient ever to receive a permanently implanted artificial heart. The boy, who remains unnamed for now, has been dealing with an illness called Duchenne syndrome, which causes rapid muscle degeneration. He was close to death and confined to a bed with no ability to walk, and was still ineligible to be added to a waiting list for a heart transplant. 

This is when Dr. Antonio Amodeo, a pediatric cardiac surgeon, decided to perform a heart transplant on the boy. But unlike previous artificial heart transplant's, this would not just be a temporary fix. This operation would serve as a permanent solution in hopes of giving the boy a "normal life." The procedure was also unlike any other artificial heart operation because this was the first time it was performed on a child. 

"The device is an electronically activated hydraulic pump and is entirely located inside the thorax, in order to reduce the risk of infection," said Dr. Amodeo. "It is powered through a plug positioned behind the left ear and connected to the battery that the patient holds on a belt and is charged during the night like a mobile phone."

The artificial heart is approximately 4cm long and weighs about 14 ounces. After 10 hours of operating last week, the boy is still in intensive care, but woke up after surgery and is doing fine. 

"Despite the length of the operation, he woke up fine and when his mother called, he said he could not talk as he was brushing his teeth," said Dr. Amodeo. 

The boy is expected to be in intensive care for two more weeks, and with his new artificial heart permanently implanted, he has gained another 20-25 years of life. 

"This is the first time such a device has been placed in a young child and should give him an improved quality of life even though he is suffering from Duchenne syndrome," said Dr. Amodeo. "The family was happy for the child to go through the surgery and have the artificial heart implanted as he was in a very bad way and was days away from dying.

"This surgery opens up new horizons as there are many children who need transplants, but the number of donors is very small and there are some who, like this patient, cannot be transplant candidates because of illness."

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power failure?
By carigis on 10/4/2010 11:12:54 AM , Rating: 2
I forget to charge my phone all the time.. would suck if he in a few years after he is used to it.. he is out traveling and caught in a power failure or just gets really drunk and forgets to charge his artificial heart..

RE: power failure?
By dark matter on 10/4/2010 1:06:54 PM , Rating: 2
You are hardly likely to "forget" something so fundamental to your existence.

RE: power failure?
By dsraa on 10/4/2010 1:12:13 PM , Rating: 2

I forget to buckle my seat belt all the time...

RE: power failure?
By Skywalker123 on 10/4/2010 1:21:57 PM , Rating: 2
Buckling your seat belt isn't fundamental to your existence no matter what the gubmint told you.

RE: power failure?
By MrBlastman on 10/4/2010 1:27:07 PM , Rating: 1
Hmm sooo what else is going to keep you in the car when you flip over multiple times in a crash? Your grip?

I can't imagine driving a car without a seatbelt on. They hold you in place so you can drive like a maniac. :)

RE: power failure?
By drumhellar on 10/4/2010 3:41:17 PM , Rating: 2
Either way, it's the crash/flipping that kills you, not the lack of seat belt.

RE: power failure?
By redbone75 on 10/4/2010 7:10:49 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder who the Darwin award candidates who voted this down are? Seat belts help save lives and are only part of ever advancing vehicle safety systems. It's that whole thing about inertia. You know, the part where your body continues at whatever speed you're driving at until something acts upon it to stop it. Would you prefer that to be the seat belt or the steering wheel? Dashboard? Windshield? That hot blond in the other vehicle you just crashed into? I don't need the government to tell me this. I learned it a looong time ago.

Look, I'm all with some people on the whole "government doesn't need to tell me how to live my life" blah blah blah kick. If, however, living your life involves putting other people at risk (and you are putting not just yourself at risk when you don't wear a seat belt) and you lack the competence to see otherwise, someone needs to tell you. I think it's sad that in many cases it ends up being government that has to be that entity in matters that involve what is basically common sense.

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