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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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Gaining 20-25 years of life?
By Sylar on 10/4/2010 1:47:39 PM , Rating: 2
Curious... so what exactly happens after 20-25 years? He'll just die naturally because his body finally realizes it doesn't have a real heart? Or is it some known mechanical issue? Couldn't that be fixed somehow?




RE: Gaining 20-25 years of life?
By MrBlastman on 10/4/2010 1:54:25 PM , Rating: 2
No, his disease he is suffering from will esentially render his complete neuro-muscular system non-functional. His heart might beat, but nothing else in his body will be able to work. Sad, but, read a little about the disease. It is quite tragic. :(


RE: Gaining 20-25 years of life?
By Silver2k7 on 10/7/2010 3:29:10 PM , Rating: 2
But who knows his condition might be curable before it comes to that.. 20-25 years is a long time, especially in these days whith stemcells and nanotech wich are both new fields that will see lots of research in two decades.


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