French company Carmat announces that is has carried out its first implanted of an artificial heart into a patient who is recovering well.
PARIS, FRANCE (DECEMBER 21, 2013) (REUTERS) - Surgeons and representatives from French company Carmat said on Saturday (December 21) that a man who had received the company's first implant of an artificial heart was recovering well.
The event was hailed as a success for French medicine by French President Francois Hollande as well as Health Minister Marisol Touraine.
The operation itself took a little over ten hours and was carried out by Professor Christian Latremouille, with a team of 16 in the operating room.
"The patient is doing very well. He's getting better every day. I saw him just before coming to see you. We're talking to him, he's recovering, he's resting," Latremouille told journalists on Saturday.
"Future progress is looking very favourable at the moment," the surgeon added.
Heart-assistance devices have been used for decades as a temporary solution for patients awaiting transplants, but Carmat's bioprosthetic product is designed to replace the real heart over the long run, mimicking nature's work using biological materials and sensors.
"As you will have understood the great advantage was the biological material which was used to try to minimise clotting, that's a first aspect. And another aspect which is very important is all the computerised assistance in this heart because it adapts in real time," Latremouille said.
He said that the heart is capable of reacting when the patient gets up from standing, for example.
Carpentier said that following his recovery, the man in question could hope to have a normal life, although he would have to wear a belt round his waist to hold the external lithium-ion batteries.
The device is aimed at helping the thousands of patients who die each year while awaiting a donor, and reducing the side-effects associated with transplants. Up to 10,000 patients in France alone could be benefit from such a treatment, doctors at the news conference said.
The longest a patient has lived with SynCardia's heart is just under four years. Carpentier said it was the longevity of the device that was remarkable.
"It's innovative insofar as it opens up new opportunities in replacing hearts straightaway without needing to replace it afterwards with a transplanted heart. That is certainly something which is claimed by others, but you have to actually manage to do it," he said.
Images of the implanted heart were not immediately available but archive footage from 2008 showed an earlier version developed by Carmat.
In September, the company got the green light from French authorities to test the first human implants of the device on four patients in three hospitals. Earlier this year, it won approval to proceed with human implants in Belgium, Poland, Slovenia and Saudi Arabia.
The Paris patient is the first worldwide to be implanted with the device, Carmat said. The patients selected for the trials suffer from terminal heart failure and the success of the device will be judged on whether they survive with the implant for at least a month.
The Carmat device, developed by a team of engineers from Airbus parent company EADS, weighs about 900g (around 2 lb) -- nearly three times more than an average healthy human heart. It is expected to cost 140,000 to 180,000 euros in Europe.