A 75-year-old Frenchman with terminal heart disease continues to recover after a successful implantation Dec. 18 with a revolutionary new artificial heart..
Dr. Daniel Duveau told Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper his patient’s convalescence would be short. "He is awake, feeding himself and talking with his family. We are thinking of getting him up on his feet soon, probably as early as this weekend," Duveau said on Thursday after seeing his patient.
Over the weekend, Reuters reported that the newspaper would soon publish a more detail account of the world’s first implantation with a self-sustaining heart, one heralding a coming age of robotic implantations. The manufacturer’s CEO, Marcello Conviti of Carmat, expressed optimism about the coming trials for the new heart. “We are delighted with this first implant, although it is premature to draw conclusions given that a single implant has been performed and that we are in the early postoperative phase,” he said last week in a statement.
The self-contained artificial heart weighs approximately 900 grams, three times as much as the human heart. Powered by lithium batteries, the unit is made from soft biomaterials with a multiplicity of sensors striving to replicate the natural experience of a beating heart, for $200,000 -- roughly the cost of a human heart transplanted from an accident victim. Developers say they’ll next design smaller versions of the artificial heart to accommodate more patients. The current device, doctors say, fits 75 percent of men and only 25 percent of women.
Christian Latermouille, one of 16 doctors participating in the complex surgery at George Pompidou hospital in Paris, according to Reuters, said the patient continues to recover nicely. Previously, the patient “was nearing the end of his life” but the surgery gave him a reprieve from death. “There were no complications linked to the innovative nature of the implant operation,” the doctor said.
"He is not walking yet, but we will try to get him sitting and then standing soon enough. The objective is for him to have a normal life," Latermouille added.
The new artificial heart aims to extend life for patients with terminal heart disease, with successful tests in animals showing a persistency of as long as five years. Surgeons in France plan to soon implant three more patients with the device, including one operation scheduled for early January.
Duveau said artificial heart implant recipient appeared jubilant in recovery. "When his wife and his daughter leave him, he tells them: 'See you tomorrow!' All he wants is to enjoy life. He can't wait to get out of the intensive care unit, out of his room, and out of uncertainty."