Italian Baby Receives World's Smallest Artificial Heart
May 23, 2012

Italian Baby Receives World’s Smallest Artificial Heart

Connie K. Ho for

Italian doctors recently announced they completed an operation that implanted the smallest artificial heart in a 16-month-old baby boy. He received the device prior to obtaining a permanent organ donation.

The operation was completed at Bambino Gesù Hospital, a children´s hospital located in the capital city of Italy. The hospital, first founded in 1869, is now part of the Italian National Healthcare System. The organization focuses on child health, rare diseases, among other issues related to children´s healthcare.

"In March, the smallest artificial heart in the world was implanted at the Bambino Gesù Hospital in Rome," Antonio Amodeo, a senior hospital official, remarked in a prepared statement.

The child was able to receive the operation after clearance by the Food and Drug Administration as well as the Ministry of Health in the Republic of Italy.

"The device, a titanium pump weighing only 11 grams and that can endure a flow of up to 1.5 liters per minute, was used in an emergency case of a 16-month-old infant suffering from dilated myocardiopathy with a serious infection of the ventricular assistance device that had been implanted previously,” continued Amodeo in the statement

After the procedure, the infant was described to be in stable condition.

"At present, at more than one month from the surgery, the infant is in good health," the statement said.

Organ transplantation seems to be a focus for Bambino Gesù Children´s Hospital. The organization has the highest national percentage of kidney transplants from living donors (40% versus 10% in the country) and is the only center in Europe that offers transplantation of 360 ° (includes organs, tissues, and cells).

"Investing in the treatment of fatal diseases due to the solution offered by the transplantation of organs, cells and tissues, promoting the culture of donation as an act of social solidarity as well as love for others and engage in finding solutions to scientific and technological innovations, it is for those who deals with children who do not know an inescapable imperative inflections,” explained Giuseppe Profiti, President of Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, in a statement. “The coordination of the National Transplant Center, also in terms of overall donations and transplants in children has contributed to making this country a model of efficiency. Give the community a starting point for reflection on the importance of living donation and the international scientific community as an innovative treatment option artificial little heart.”

The Italian National Transplant Center also highlighted the success that the Bambino Gesù Children´s Hospital has had in organ transplant operations.

"The Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital is one of the main European transplantation in children, combining the activities for all organs for transplantation an ethical commitment, service and great professionalism," commented Alessandro Nanni Costa (, Director of the Italian National Transplant Center, in a statement.

There are other notable accomplishments at Bambino Gesù Hospital, including work done on the obesity epidemic and a study on the health of children´s skin.