Rome: An artificial heart saved the life of a 16-month-old baby, suffering from a heart disease, and kept him alive for 13 days.
Italian doctors at Rome’s Bambino Gesu hospital put a small-finger-sized device into the baby boy who needed an urgent transplant but no donor was available.
The baby had a heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy in which heart wall become thin and cannot pump blood anymore.
“This patient, he was a mascot for us,” ABC News quoted surgeon Antonio Amodeo of Rome’s Bambino Gesu Hospital as saying. He said that the baby had been in the intensive care unit of the hospital since he was just one month old: “I said, ‘He cannot die; I have to do something for him.’”
The doctor with his team transplanted an 11-gram implantable pump into the baby which was invented by US entrepreneur Dr. Robert Jarvik that had only been tested on animals.
“I said, ‘Dr, Jarvik, please help me. I don’t want to lose this patient,” Amodeo said.
He said a special permission from the US Food and Drug Administration and the Italian Ministry of Health was required before testing the device first time on humans. “We knew there were only a few animal experiments, but we knew it could probably work.”
The artificial heart kept the baby alive for 13 days before electrical problems forced the doctors to remove it and replace it with the Berlin Heart. However, a donor heart became available two days later.
“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 said. “It’s incredible. We are all extremely happy because the little boy will be in his mother’s hands. He’s going to be fine.”