16-Month Old Baby Saved By Worlds’ Smallest Artificial Heart
A 16-month-old baby with a heart defect was saved by the worlds' smallest artificial heart, doctors announced on Thursday. The implant is not a permanent fix -- doctors implanted the device to give the baby more time before he received a permanent heart transplant.
The baby, whose name is being withheld, suffers from a condition called dilated myocardiopathy.
"Dilated cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle, primarily affecting your heart's main pumping chamber (left ventricle)," according to the Mayo Clinic. "The left ventricle becomes enlarged (dilated) and can't pump blood to your body with as much force as a healthy heart can."
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The heart weighs only 11 grams, which is tiny compared to an adult heart, which weighs in at over 900 grams, according to CBS News. The device was developed by Dr. Robert Jarvis, who is known for creating the first artificial heart. The implant does not beat but instead rotates to pump blood through the body, according to MIT's Technology Review.
The baby had been living in the hospital since it was one-month old, so doctors became very attached to him, according to Reuters.
"The patient was in our intensive care unit since one month of age. So he was a mascot for us, he was one of us," surgeon Antonio Amodeo told Retuers. "Every day, every hour, for more than one year he was with us. So when we had a problem we couldn't do anything more than our best."
The child had multiple surgeries during his stay at the hospital, which complicated the surgery a bit, Amodeo said.
"From a surgical point of view, this was not really difficult. The only difficulty that we met is that the child was operated on several times before," he told Reuters.
The heart kept the baby alive for 13 days until he received a permanent heart. He is recovering and doing well, according to Reuters.
Researchers hope that the device can be used more often and as a permanent fix in the future.
"This is a milestone," Amadeo told Reuters.
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