French Patient Recovering Well After Receiving First Long-Term Artificial Heart
December 30, 2013

First Long-Term Artificial Heart Recipient Doing Well Following Surgery

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

Less than two weeks after becoming the first person ever to receive a long-term artificial heart, a 75-year-old Frenchman is said to be recovering well, various media outlets reported on Sunday.

Professor Daniel Duveau, one of the surgeons who performed the December 18 operation at the Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris, said that the man was “awake, feeding himself and talking with his family,” according to Reuters reports.

“We are thinking of getting him up on his feet soon, probably as early as this weekend,” he added.

“Heart-assistance devices have been used for decades as a temporary solution for patients awaiting transplants,” but the new bioprosthetic unit developed by French biomedical company Carmat “is designed to replace the real heart over the long run, mimicking nature using biological materials and sensors,” the news agency explained.

The device “aims to extend life for patients suffering from terminal heart failure who cannot hope for a heart transplant, often because they are too old and donors too scarce,” Reuters added.

Carmat’s device can reportedly function for up to five years, and while it had previously been tested on animals, this procedure marks the first time that it has been implanted into a human patient, according to Anthony Bond of The Mirror.

Three additional patients will be outfitted with the artificial heart during the first stage of clinical trials, with the next procedure scheduled for early January. The success of the implant will be based on whether or not the recipients are able to survive with it for at least one month, the UK website added.

The device was developed by Carmat’s Alain Carpentier, who Shannon Firth of US News and World Report explained has spent more than a quarter of a century researching and developing the implant. While it is fully artificial, Carpentier insists that it responds more like an actual human heart than any other device developed to date.

“If your loved one came through the door [and you had a Carmat artificial heart], it would start to beat faster, just like a real one,” he said during a recent press conference, according to Firth. The device was created from biomaterials such as bovine tissue, making it less likely than fully artificial devices to be rejected by a patient’s body.

The implant uses a pair of miniature pumps attached to each of the ventricle champers to mimic actual heart muscle contractions, the US News writer reported. The body’s need for blood is monitored by tiny sensors.

All of the patients receiving the implants during the trial suffer from terminal heart failure, meaning that their heart can no longer pump enough blood to support the body and that they would have no more than a few weeks to live, Bond added.