French artificial-heart patient, first to use the device long term, dies

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 March, 2014, 9:37pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 March, 2014, 9:37pm


A man in his 70s who was fitted with the French biomedical firm Carmat's first artificial heart two and a half months ago has died, the hospital said.

"Seventy-five days after the implant of the first Carmat artificial heart bioprosthesis in a 76-year-old man with a terminal heart disease, the patient died on March 2, 2014," a statement from the Paris-based Georges-Pompidou European Hospital said on Monday.

Artificial hearts have been in use for many years as a temporary fix for patients with chronic heart problems. The Carmat product aims to provide a longer-term solution to bridge the wait for a donor heart and enable patients who are in hospital to return home and perhaps even resume work.

The hospital statement said the causes of death "will not be known until after a thorough analysis of the abundant medical and technical data that has been recorded".

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 patient had received his artificial heart on December 18, in the first procedure of its kind, after the French government gave approval for the operation in September.

The surgeons who carried out the ground-breaking operation and subsequently monitored the patient's progress were keen to "stress the significance of the initial findings drawn" from the experiment, the hospital's statement said.

They paid homage to the patient, who was "fully aware of what was at stake and - with his trust, courage and will - made a memorable contribution to the medical battle against a growing disease".