An artificial heart implanted in the Netherlands for the first time

Doctors from the University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht have successfully implanted a completely artificial heart in a patient for the first time in the Netherlands. This is reported by the French biomedical company Carmat, the developer of the artificial heart.

According to de Volkskrant, the heart was placed a week and a half ago with a 54-year-old Dutchman, who suffered from serious heart failure and could no longer wait for a donor’s heart. “The implantation of the artificial heart was successful. The patient is doing well and was out of intensive care within two days,” the university hospital said.

Life-saving

Faiz Ramjankhan, the lung surgeon who led the operation, is “delighted that we were able to place the first artificial heart in the Netherlands on a patient”. According to him, the implantation of the artificial heart has been “successful, and the first impression is promising”. “It was an exciting operation that required a lot of preparation.”

The treatment is still experimental, but cardiologists expect that the heart prosthesis can be life-saving for more acute patients who have expired in the future. “Hopefully, we will soon have a heart for that group,” says the heart-lung surgeon in the Volkskrant.

The artificial heart from France replaces and takes over the function of the entire heart. It is equipped with pumps, four biological valves, sensors, electronics, and integrated software. The outside is made of synthetic polyurethane, and the inside is lined with biological material from the pericardium of a cow.

An employee of the French company Carmat in the production of the artificial heart.
An employee of the French company Carmat in the production of the artificial heart. ©AFP

The artificial heart pumps blood through the body with two motors. These increase the pressure in the fluid-filled spaces next to the two heart chambers. This external pressure causes the ventricles to force blood into the pulmonary artery and aorta.

According to the newspaper, eight years ago, the heart was implanted in a human for the first time.

Buy time

The artificial heart has to buy time. It serves as a bridge until a suitable donor heart is available. The longest living patient has lived with the artificial heart for two years. According to Faiz Ramjankhan, the long-term effects of the artificial heart for people with heart failure are still being investigated.

Patients in seven other countries have already received such a heart, including Germany, France, and the United States. The French artificial heart costs 210,000 euros, the health insurer of the Dutch patient has contributed.

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