Doctors have saved the life of a 16-month-old boy after they implanted him with the world’s smallest artificial heart. The device, which only weighed 11grams, kept the toddler alive until a donor organ was found.
The boy had the operation at Rome’s Bambino Gesu hospital last month and had the implant for 13 days before he had a transplant. He is now doing well.
The baby was suffering from dilated myocardiopathy, a heart muscle disease which normally causes stretched or enlarged fibres of the heart. The disease gradually makes the heart weaker, stopping its ability to pump blood effectively.
‘This is a milestone,’ surgeon Antonio Amodeo said.
He added that while the device was now used as bridge leading to a transplant, in the future it could be permanent.
The tiny titanium pump weighs 11 grams and can handle a blood flow of 1.5 litres a minute. An artificial heart for adults weighs 900 grams.
Mr Amodeo said the baby had become family and his team wanted to do everything to help him.
‘The patient was in our intensive care unit since one month of age. So he was a mascot for us, he was one of us,’ the doctor said.