First patient implanted with titanium and plastic heart dies

A 59-year-old man who had an all artificial heart implanted into him has died. A titanium and plastic heart was implanted into Robert Tools last summer. The patient received the first implanted artificial heart that totally replaces the function of the human heart. The implantation was part of a clinical trial of the device. Surgeons from the University of Louisville implanted the heart in a seven-hour procedure at a Jewish hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Tools has lived with the artificial heart for 151 days. He did not die from the disease he has been treated for, so to say. The doctors assert that his death was not linked to his heart surgery and resulted from one of the chronical diseases Mr. Tools was suffering from. A profuse haemorrhage suddenly developed in his abdomen, leading to the blockade of vital organs. As for the heart, it kept on functioning smoothly after Mr. Tools’ death.

The mechanical heart fits inside the body and is battery-operated. The heart is designed to move blood through the lungs and to the rest of the body, simulating the rhythm of a heartbeat. The device consists of an internal thoracic unit that weighs about two pounds. It includes two artificial ventricles with valves and a motor-driven hydraulic pumping system. It has an internal controller and electronics that regulate the pumping speed. It runs on an internal battery that is continually recharged by an external battery. Patients wear the external battery around the waist. A transduction device attached to the skin transmits the charge to the internal battery.

The artificial heart is designed for patients with heart failure or coronary heart disease who have failed all existing therapies. More than 700,000 patients die from heart failure each year in the United States. Many of these patients could be helped with heart transplants, but only about 2,000 donor hearts become available each year for transplantation.

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