Healthy Living: Total artificial heart transplant
Able to pump eight liters of blood per minute, the total artificial heart represents a revolution for patients with end stage heart failure. Casey Bortnick reports.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
Able to pump eight liters of blood per minute, this device represents a revolution for patients with end stage heart failure.
"The fact we could have people alive for months was a big deal... The fact that we're talking years now is a huge milestone," said cardiologist Dr. Todd Massey.
Approved for use in 2004, the temporary total artificial heart is the first device that can pump blood from either side of the heart. Unlike pumps that assist the heart, this technology replaces it.
Last March, former American Hockey League star Gates Orlando was diagnosed with a rare form of heart failure, one that affects all four chambers.
"So he had the dysfunction but he was also plagued by many life threatening arrhythmias," said Dr. Massey.
Orlando was given an implantable defibrillator that could shock his heart back into rhythm. His doctors said this will provide him more stability.
"This is something that doesn't just extend or prolong their lives, but actually almost normalizes their quality of life and that's one of the key components to this technology and its advancement," said Dr. Eugene Storozynsky, a cardiologist.
The longest anyone has used the total artificial heart is 46 months, but doctors are confident it could be used longer.
"Possibly in the future this could be used as a therapy, a destination therapy, in and of itself as an end," said cardiologist Dr. Leway Chen.
In the meantime, this device should buy its patients some time.
"Our goal is to get him up, get mobile get him fully healthy and then ultimately proceed on with a heart transplant when the right donor heart becomes available," said Dr. Massey.