Smallest artificial heart saves baby in Italy

Doctors at the Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome, the Italian capital, have saved the life of a baby of 16 months, thanks to the world's smallest artificial heart implant. The child, who suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy, underwent surgery last month. However, the results were not published until this week.

In this sense, the surgeon, Antonio Amodeo, said: "This is a milestone," acknowledging that his team has been involved in helping this baby who "is already part of the family." 

"The patient was in our intensive care unit from the first month of life (...) and was one of us."

The baby managed to stay alive for 13 days until a donor was found and could be transplanted. However, the only concern was that the child had already been operated on many times, doctors said.

Before the implant, the child also had a serious infection around a mechanical pump that had been fitted earlier to support the function of his natural heart.

Cardiomyopathy is a disease that affects the heart muscle, which normally leads to the shrinking or enlargement of the fibers of the heart. The condition gradually weakens the heart, stopping its ability to pump blood effectively.

The artificial heart was developed by American physician, Robert Jarvik, and is capable of handling a blood flow of 1.5 liters per minute despite its 11 grams.

Doctors said the device had been previously tested only on animals.  They needed to obtain special permission from Jarvik and authorities  to perform the procedure.

Translated from the Portuguese version and appended by:

Lisa Karpova


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