November 19, 2008

Living without a heart

I didn't know this was possible for such long periods of time.

"She essentially lived for 118 days without a heart, with her circulation supported only by the two blood pumps," said Dr. Marco Ricci, the hospital's director of pediatric cardiac surgery. During that time, Simmons was mobile but remained hospitalized.

When an artificial heart is used to sustain a patient, the patient's own heart is usually left in the body, doctors said.

In some cases, adult patients have been kept alive that way for more than a year, they said.

"This, we believe, is the first pediatric patient who has received such a device in this configuration without the heart, and possibly one of the youngest that has ... been bridged to transplantation without her native heart," Ricci said.

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