A 75-year-old man who last week became the first person to receive an artificial heart developed by French biomedical firm Carmat was progressing well, doctors said on Saturday.
The patient was “progressing and recuperating,” said surgeon Christian Latremouille, who was among the 16-strong team of doctors who performed the operation at the Georges Pompidou Hospital in Paris on Wednesday last week.
Artificial hearts have already been in use for many years as a temporary fix for patients with chronic heart problems.
The Carmat product aims at providing a longer-term solution to bridge the wait for a donor heart and enable hospitalized patients to return home and maybe even resume work.
“He was nearing the end of his life,” Latremouille told a press conference, adding that the surgery had gone according to plan.
“The intervention took place in good conditions. There were no complications linked to the innovative nature of the implant operation,” he said.
“He is not walking yet, but we will try to get him sitting and then standing soon enough. The objective is for him to have a normal life,” the surgeon said.
The artificial heart, a self-contained unit implanted in the patient’s chest, uses soft “biomaterials” and an array of sensors to mimic the contractions of the heart.
The goal is to lessen the risk of blood clots and rejection by the immune system.
The patient will have to wear a belt of lithium batteries to power the heart.
Nearly 100,000 people in Europe and the US are in need of a heart transplant, according to Carmat.
A US rival to Carmat, an artificial heart called AbioCor, is authorized in the US for patients with end-stage heart failure or life expectancy of less than 30 days, who are not eligible for a natural heart transplant and have no other viable treatment options.