Artificial heart transplant first

A 50-year-old from the Sydney suburb of Fairfield has had surgery to implant a mechanical heart, making him the southern hemisphere’s first recipient of the breakthrough technology.


Angelo Tigano is living proof you can remove a man’s heart, but he’ll still love his mum’s cooking.

Speaking to reporters at a press event in St Vincent’s Hospital on Monday, Mr Tigano said he was “feeling great” and looking forward to some home cooking.

“Just going home and getting back to my own environment,” Mr Tigano said when asked what he missed most.

“… we’ll get together at mum’s place for pasta, we’ll make sure we do that.”

Mr Tigano has lived with a degenerative heart condition for more than ten years and, before his successful surgery, was expected to live for only two more weeks.

His new SynCardia Systems temporary Total Artificial Heart grants him several more years in which a suitable donor heart must be found.

It has replaced his failing heart, and is now pumping up to 9.5 litres of blood per minute through his body.

The device is connected by cables to an external, and slightly noisy, pump and power supply that can be either mounted on a trolley or in a backpack.

Dr Phillip Spratt, head of the hospital’s heart transplant unit, said it was a significant advance on conventional heart pumps.

“It means we take the whole heart out and put this artificial heart in and the patients get better a whole lot quicker,” he said.

“You can see looking at Angelo, this was a man who was nearly dead two weeks ago.”

Dr Spratt said the new mechanical heart was “not a permanent solution, it’s a bridge to transplantation” and such technologies allowed more patients to survive the nine to 12 month waiting list for a donor heart.

Australia has one of the world’s lowest rates of organ donation and there were 82 heart transplants undertaken in 2008, followed by just 60 last year.

“Obviously we need more organ donation and we hope the organ donate programs the federal government put in place will improve that situation,” Dr Spratt said.

“But our patients are so sick when they come to us that we will always require some form of mechanical support.”

The $120,000 cost of Mr Tigano’s mechanical heart was covered by benefactors of St Vincent’s Hospital, and Dr Spratt said talks were underway to secure government funding.

Mr Tigano is just one of the 1,700 Australians now on an organ donor waiting list and, in the meantime, he is coming to terms with his new pneumatic heartbeat and lease on life.

“It is unusual because of the noise and there is a clicking in your chest which is the pump that keeps going,” Mr Tigano said.

“There’s a few different things to get used to but other than that it’s wonderful.”

For information on organ donation go online to 深圳桑拿网,donatelife.gov深圳桑拿网,.

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