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First Time Ever, A Heartbroken Dane Has Had An Entirely Artificial Heart Implanted


For the first time ever, a heartbroken Dane has had an entirely artificial heart implanted. This happened last week at the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, the Capital Region states in a press release .

The operation lasted for six hours – and went well, says Finn Gustafsson, a consultant and professor specializing in advanced heart failure and transplantation at the Cardiac Medicine Clinic at Rigshospitalet .

The patient is well. It is a milestone for us and a big step forward, says Finn Gustafsson to DR News.

This is the world’s first fully electric artificial heart ‘Carmat’, developed by the Airbus factories in France, which, like a well-functioning heart, can pump five liters of blood around the body per minute and beat up to 40 million beats a year .

The patient briefly gets his or her heart removed and instead gets the electrical inserted. Out of the stomach you have a cord that is connected to some batteries. Otherwise, you cannot feel that your heart of flesh and blood has been replaced with a complete artificial.


– Patients can immediately feel that they are getting better – and otherwise you can only hear a very weak sound, says the doctor.

Works like a normal heart of flesh and blood

According to Finn Gustafsson, the heart works largely according to the same principle as is known from mechanical hearts, where the patient nevertheless retains his heart and gets a support pump operated. However, the pump can only ‘operate’ the left part of the heart, so the mechanical heart does not work for people who are sick throughout the heart.

There used to be an artificial heart that was implanted in a Swede several years ago. Here the patient survived, but was constantly in bed. In addition, there was too much risk of bleeding or blood clots. That has changed now.

The Carmat heart adapts to the body, so if a person with the artificial heart, for example, cycles or is otherwise breathed, the heart will set up the pumping rhythm itself.

– You will not play football or ice hockey with this, but you can still walk or bike with it. It is an intelligent heart that functions like a normal heart, says Finn Gustafsson.

However, the heart surgeon emphasizes that if technical problems arise and the battery, for example, stops working, you die immediately.

Danish patient was number 13 in the world

Denmark is the only third place in the world to incorporate Carmat into a patient. The Danish patient was number 13 in the world.

The operation happened as part of a larger study of just Carmat, which began two years ago. The twelve patients who have previously been given the new artificial heart are not all alive anymore – and several of them have been given a new real donor heart.

And the hope is that in the future one can offer whole artificial hearts to those patients who have heart failure on both sides and can no longer wait for a donor heart or may not be able to handle a transplant.

The heart must be used as both a temporary solution and as a permanent, final solution. How long the artificial heart can hold is not yet known. So far, it has been affecting patients for two years.

– We expect a lifetime of five years, but time will tell. But then it might be possible to change the heart with a new one, says Finn Gustafsson.

Within the next four to five months, the plan is to reach a total of 20 patients receiving the artificial heart in the Carmat study, two or three more in Denmark. After the 20 surgeries, data will need to be examined further before hopefully next year being able to put the heart into final production.

– These are patients that we have not been able to help so far, but for which we, with the artificial heart, will be able to make a huge difference, and so far the results have been good. It looks very promising, says Finn Gustafsson.

Incidentally, it can be added that patients with the artificial hearts will not experience phantom pain, as is known from limb amputation. According to the doctor, there are no nerves to the heart in the same way as to legs or arms.

Source: dr.dk

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