Dec 29, 2013 16:10 By Anthony Bond
A French pensioner is recovering well more than a week after becoming the first person to be fitted with an artificial heart, his doctor has said.
The 75-year-old Frenchman is feeding himself and chatting to his family following the ground-breaking surgery in a Paris hospital on December 18.
Professor Daniel Duveau told Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper: “He is awake, feeding himself and talking with his family. We are thinking of getting him up on his feet soon, probably as early as this weekend.”
He added that the patient was very combative and confident with his new prosthetic heart.
“When his wife and his daughter leave him, he tells them:
’See you tomorrow!’ All he wants is to enjoy life. He can’t wait to get out of the intensive care unit, out of his room, and out of uncertainty.”
A more detailed account of the patient’s health is expected to be made public tomorrow.
The artificial heart, which can beat up to five years, has been successfully tested on animals but the implant was the first on a human patient.
Three more patients in France are due to be fitted with the device made by French biomedical company Carmat.
The next operation is scheduled for the first weeks of January.
In this first range of clinical trials, the success of the device will be judged on whether patients survive with the implant for at least a month.
Heart-assistance devices have been used for decades as a temporary solution for patients awaiting transplants, but Carmat’s bioprosthetic product is designed to replace the real heart over the long run, mimicking nature using biological materials and sensors.
It aims to extend life for patients suffering from terminal heart failure who cannot hope for a heart transplant, often because they are too old and donors too scarce.
The patients selected suffer from terminal heart failure – when the sick heart can no longer pump enough blood to sustain the body – and would otherwise have only a few days or weeks to live.
Artificial hearts thus fuel huge hope amongst patients, their families, and investors. Shares in Carmat have risen more than five-fold since floating on the Paris exchange in 2010.