Tiny Little Heart

Modern day medical advances never cease to amaze me. Prosthetic limbs have come a long way and electronic organs seem to be the wave of the future. Maybe not the near future, but the future nonetheless. Ingenious Italian doctors created a tiny mechanical heart to keep a very delicate patient alive while he awaited a donor. Wow!

The patient’s name has not and will not be released, so for the sake of saving keystrokes I will refer to him as Baby. Baby was born with a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DMC). In summary, DMC is a condition that causes the heart to become weaker and enlarged. Due to the heart “expanding” the heart can not pump blood as effectively as it would if it were its normal size. DMC is fairly common in those who abuse alcohol, those with certain thyroid conditions and in some rare cases DMC is genetic (only about 25-35% of cases contract it this way). Despite all of these causes, for this condition to manifest itself within the heart of a new-born baby is a bit of a shock.

Despite the slight unlikelihood of it all, Baby was born with DMC and needed a heart transplant. After sixteen months of life, Baby’s heart began to grow very weak. “I don’t want to lose this patient”, said  Dr. Antonio Amodeo to his partner Dr. Robert Jarkiv, both surgeons at the Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome. Let’s pump the breaks right there, the Bambino Gesu hospital? What a great name for a children’s hospital! The Baby Jesus Hospital; I’d have the utmost faith if my child was being treated there. With that in mind, I’m sure Baby’s parents had the same feeling of assurance despite the sticky situation. Ok, back to the story.

After trying a Berlin Heart (a scaled down version of the mechanical heart ventricle worn by former Vice President Cheney) these two amazing surgeons tried something a bit daring to save Baby’s life and as luck and Christ would have it, it worked. After recieving a special waiver from the (American) Food and Drug Administration as well as a blessing from the Italian Ministry of Health, Dr. Amodeo and Dr. Jarkiv put their heads together to keep Baby’s heart beating. With the Berlin Heart being a no-go, the only other option was an unapproved eleven-gram titanium artificial “heart”. This magical device kept Baby alive for a whopping thirteen days before electrical issues forced his two amazing doctors to revert back to the Berlin Heart. A mere two days later, a donor heart became available and Baby was saved. “It was incredible!” stated Dr. Amodeo after the procedure was complete. “We are all extremly happy because the little boy will be in his mother’s hands. He’s going to be fine”.

What an amazing story! I love science and I always love it that much more when modern science and technology is used for the greater good. Below is the full story compliments of Yahoo! as well as a couple of pictures (no gross ones, promise). Enjoy!

Baby Saved by Tiny Artificial Heart

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