science

Sichuan patient receives first "Made In China" artificial heart

A patient, who received the first “made-in-China” artificial heart, has recovered well and was preparing to leave for home on Tuesday at a hospital in Chengdu, Southwest China’s Sichuan province, local media outlet Red Star News reported.

The patient, 42, surnamed Song, suffered from heart disease for more than 10 years. He could not work, and had to stay in bed for years while taking medication to relieve symptoms such as palpitation and shortness of breath.

Huang Keli, director of cardiac surgery at the Sichuan Provincial People’s Hospital, said when Song went to the hospital for treatment his life was in great danger.

Song was in the end stage of dilated cardiomyopathy, suffering cardiac muscle necrosis and heart function decline according to Song. X-ray images showed Song’s heart was about four times normal size.

On Nov 10, doctors carried out an operation to input the domestically made artificial heart into Song’s chest. This was the first practical use of the artificial heart after it was approved for market.

The artificial heart has two parts. One part is 420 grams and includes an artificial blood vessel and blood pump placed in the chest, and the other part is 3 kilograms. This is the external controller, which can be put into a backpack.

Huang said the inside and outside parts are connected with a wire, and the patient should pay close attention to the battery power. “Except for swimming, the patient could drive and go shopping with the artificial heart.”

Wang Wenyan, director of the heart failure center at the hospital, said each pair of batteries could supply the device for 6 hours for outdoor activities and patients could use the plugged model at home.

Because there is no nurse at home, Song needs to supervise the device himself, reading data and changing batteries. Therefore, he had to receive training during the past two months in the recovery period, Wang said.

“I’ve gained weight now, and I was less than 45 kilograms in the past,” Song said.

Huang said he expected the artificial heart could be made smaller to be put into people’s body as a whole, like the artificial cardiac pacemaker. At present, the device is about 1 million yuan ($154,900), and operation costs are around 200,000 yuan, similar to other major heart operations.

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