East Anglia: Papworth Hospital first in UK to be allowed to use new artificial heart

East Anglia: Patients receiving total artificial hearts are often extremely ill and need an urgent heart transplant.

The device buys them crucial extra time while medics continue the search for a suitable donor.

The artificial heart can enable very sick patients to regain their strength, possibly putting them back on the organ donor list when they had been too sick.

Even though a donor transplant is the preferred outcome for these patients, they can survive a long time with an artificial heart.

The SynCardia Total Artificial Heart given to Matthew Green at Papworth Hospital near Cambridge is a sophisticated update on earlier models.

It provides blood flow of up to 9.5 litres per minute throughout the body, relieving symptoms of end-stage heart failure.

The device replaces the action of the heart’s left and right ventricles and valves, thereby effectively pumping blood to the body’s organs.

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It is powered by a portable driver which weighs 13.5 pounds and is carried in a backpack or shoulder bag.

Papworth, which carried out the UK’s first successful heart transplant in 1979, has been using artificial devices to help heart patients since the 1980s.

Many have received left ventricular assist devices (LVADs), which take over the action of only one part of the heart.

In November 1986, a patient received a Jarvik-7 total artificial heart and was supported for two days before receiving a heart transplant.

Around the world, hundreds of patients have benefited from total artificial hearts and had quality of life restored.

The SynCardia is designed as a permanent replacement heart but is only approved as a “bridge” device until patients can receive a donor heart.

More than 900 SynCardia implants have been given to patients worldwide after all other treatments have failed.

A 10-year study of the device found 75 per cent of patients were out of bed within a week of receiving it.

Two weeks after implant, 60pc of all patients were walking more than 100ft and liver function had returned completely to normal, with kidney function not far behind.

Papworth is the 66th hospital in the world and the first hospital in the UK to be allowed to use the SynCardia artificial heart.

According to the British Heart Foundation, more than 750,000 people are living with heart failure in the UK.

The condition can leave people breathless doing basic things, such as climbing the stairs or cooking a meal.

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