An artificial heart from Carmat has found its way to first human patient in France. The procedure was performed on December 18, 2013 by the Georges Pompidou European Hospital team in Paris (France). “The implantation went smoothly, with the prosthesis automatically providing blood flow at physiologic conditions. The patient is currently being monitored in the intensive care unit. He is awake and talks with his family.” – Carmat
While synthetic hearts aren’t new, what sets the new Carmat “bioprosthetic” model apart is the way it uses existing biological tissue. Two chambers in the heart are divided by a membrane. In one chamber hydraulic fluid is held in place. A pump with in the heart pushes the fluid in and out of the chambers, which causes the blood to flow on the other side.
According to Piet Jansen, chief medical officer of Carmat:
The idea was to develop an artificial heart in which the moving parts that are in contact with blood are made of tissue that is [better suited] for the biological environment.
Carmat first won approval from four different cardiac centers in Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Poland, and Belgium. The company’s home country of France eventually came on board in September and Health Minister Marisol Touraine is wasting no time in touting Carmat’s success. “This news brings great pride to France,” she told BFM TV. “It shows we are pioneers in healthcare, that we can invent, that we can carry an innovation that will also bring great hope to plenty of people.”
“We are delighted with this first implant, although it is premature to draw conclusions given that a single implant has been performed and that we are in the early postoperative phase,” Carmat’s CEO Marcelo Conviti said in a statement.
Carmat’s artificial heart weighs three times than that of human heart. It can beat for up to five years and is designed for patients suffering from end-stage heart failure. But it won’t come cheap: the device is expected to cost around 150,000 euros (over $195,000). Carmat has other patients lined up for early human trials. If the tests turn out successful, this new heart could offer some much needed hope to the roughly 5.7 million people in the United States suffering from heart failure at any given time.