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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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