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Boy Transplanted With Permanent Artificial Heart

Boy Transplanted With Permanent Artificial Heart

Italian boy becomes the youngest to receive a permanent artificial heart…

An Italian boy has become the first child to receive a permanent artificial heart. In a 10 hour operation performed at the Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital in Rome, the unnamed boy received a fully artificial heart that is to stay with him for the rest of his life.

The boy is said to be in a stable condition in hospital, where he will remain for a further two weeks to recover before being allowed to return home.

pumps of artificial heart

Pumps Used In The Artificial Heart

The boy suffers from a rare condition known as Duchenne’s syndrome – an illness that causes the muscles to rapidly waste away. And although he was eligible for government-funded treatment, the boy was extremely close to death when the decision was finally made to implant an artificial heart.

Now with his new heart, the boy is expected to live another 20 – 25 years.

The artificial heart is 2.5 inch long and weighs a little over 3oz – compared to adult hearts which can weigh up to 2lbs.

dr antonio amodeo

Dr. Antonio Amodeo

Dr Amodeo, the lead surgeon who performed the procedure, said the heart was ‘placed inside the left ventricle and its connection with the ascending aorta’:

‘The device is an electrically activated hydraulic pump and is entirely located inside the thorax, in order to reduce the risk of infection…

‘It is powered through a plug positioned behind the left ear and connected to a battery that the patient holds on a belt and is charged during the night like a mobile phone.’ [Telegraph]

Artificial hearts transplants have been performed on adults, but this is the first time one has been given to a child on a permanent basis.

The very first artifical heart transplant was performed on a man from Louisville, Kentucky in 2001. Last year a 13 year old boy became the youngest to undergo a partial heart transplant, in which he received an artificial heart pump at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. And in 2006, a young girl in Alberta Canada received a fully artificial heart as a temporary measure.

Dr Amodeo added:

‘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’s syndrome…

‘The family was happy for the child to go through the surgery and have the artificial heart implanted because he 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.’ [Daily Mail]

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  1. Nick Pisa: Boy, 15, gets first permanent artifical heart. Telegraph, 10/02/2010.
  2. Nick Pisa: A world first as boy, 15, given a permanent robot heart. Daily Mail, 10/03/2010.

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