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Italian Boy Is World's First With Permanent Robot Heart

A 15-year-old Italian boy has become the world's first child to be given a permanent artificial heart.The unnamed boy had the ten-hour operation last week and was said to be well and talking in intensive
PTI October 03, 2010 10:07 IST
PTI
A 15-year-old Italian boy has become the world's first child to be given a permanent artificial heart.

The unnamed boy had the ten-hour operation last week and was said to be well and talking in intensive care on Saturday night, reports The Daily Mail, London.

As he has the muscle-wasting illness Duchenne's syndrome, he was ineligible for a heart transplant. The pumps used for the world's first permanent artificial heart implant .



He was close to death when surgeons decided to save him with the artificial heart.Dr Antonio Amodeo carried out the operation at Bambino Gesu children's hospital in Rome.

Officials said the artificial heart is expected to give the boy another 20 to 25 years of ‘normal life'.Dr Amodeo said the heart is 2.5in long and was placed inside the left ventricle and its connection with the ascending aorta.He said: ‘The device is an electrically activated hydraulic pump and is entirely located inside the thorax, in order to reduce the risk of infection.

‘It is powered through a plug positioned behind the left ear and connected to a battery that the patient holds on a belt and is charged during the night like a mobile phone.

‘This is the first time such a device has been placed in a young child and should give him an improved quality of life even though he is suffering from Duchenne's syndrome.



Dr. Antonio Amodeo led the team that carried out the 10 hour breakthrough operation.‘The family was happy for the child to go through the surgery and have the artificial heart implanted because he was days away from dying.'

Dr Amodeo said the device weighs just over 3oz compared to adult ones which can weigh 2lb and the boy is expected to remain in intensive care for another two weeks.

He added: ‘Despite the length of the operation he woke up fine and when his mother called he said he could not talk as he was brushing his teeth. This surgery opens up new horizons as there are many children who need transplants but the number of donors is very small and there are some who, like this patient, cannot be transplant candidates because of illness.'He said the surgery was unique as up until now it had only been performed on adults.

Last year Andrew Ames, 13, became the world's youngest boy to be given an artificial heart pump, which was implanted to support the rest of the organ in an operation at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.Freeman Hospital, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.The implant is to be used on a permanent basis rather than a more common temporary artificial heart The first completely artificial heart was given to an unnamed man in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2001. A battery pack was fitted to his thorax to power the device.

A 15-year-old girl was given an artificial heart in 2006 in Alberta, Canada. However, unlike the 15-year-old boy in Italy, it was intended only as a temporary fix and was later removed.