French Surgeons Successfully Install Artificial Heart

Nothing short of a holiday miracle, cardiac surgeons in France have successfully installed an artificial heart into a 75-year-old patient on December 21.

The prosthetic organ, designed and engineered by French company Carmat with the help of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS), utilizes cardiac tissue from biological sources — such as cows — in order to reduce the likelihood of the heart’s rejection by the host body; the usual synthetic materials carry a greater risk of clotting blood. The device weighs in at 2 lbs, nearly three times heavier than the typical human heart.

Previous attempts to implant artificial hearts had turned problematic or only useful for the short term. However, Carmat and EADS have designed this heart to function for up to five years, enabling its receiver to work and live a relatively normal life for a significant period of time. The device has the potential to save the lives of an estimated 100,000 people throughout the United States and Europe who are in need of a heart transplant or implant.

Says Alain Carpentier, the surgeon who carried out the procedure, “it’s about giving patients a normal social life with the least dependence on medication as possible. We’ve already seen devices of this type, but they had a relatively low autonomy. This heart will allow for more movement and less clotting.”

Unfortunately, the artificial heart cannot be hailed as a cure-all for heart failure just yet. Heart failure affects a greater percentage of men than women, meaning that the heart is designed to fit in approximately 86% of men’s bodies — but only 20% of women’s. Carmat has begun working on a smaller version to fit the “petite” bodies of women and patients in India and China.

Currently, however, the heart comes with a hefty price tag. The Telegraph reports a minimum cost of 140,000-180,000 euros when it finally goes on sale in Europe.

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  1. […] French Surgeons Successfully Install Artificial Heart. In nothing short of a holiday miracle, cardiac surgeons in France have successfully implanted an artificial heart into a 75-year-old patient on December 21. The prosthetic organ, designed and engineered by French company Carmat with the help of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS), utilizes cardiac tissue from biological sources — such as cows — in order to reduce the likelihood of the heart’s rejection by the host body. The usual synthetic materials carry a greater risk of clotting blood. The device weighs in at about two pounds, nearly three times heavier than the typical human heart. […]

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