A portion of the heart of a 54-year-old man from Raipur was replaced by an artificial device at a private hospital in Calcutta on Wednesday. Without the device, doctors said, the patient would have required a heart transplant.
Heart transplants are unpredictable and a large number of people listed for a transplant die before they get a cadaver donor.
“Unlike heart transplant, implantation of an artificial device that replaces the function of a portion of the heart is not common,” said cardiac surgeon Kunal Sarkar, who performed the surgery to implant the artificial left ventricular assist device at Medica Superspecialty Hospital.
The two ventricles of the heart act like pumps. The right ventricle pumps blood to the lungs, while the left ventricle pumps blood to the rest of the body. The left ventricle of the 54-year-old man was not functioning properly. If the left ventricle doesn’t work, other organs will stop working.
The artificial left ventricular assist device implanted on Monday will perform the function of the pump.
“Basically we are adding another pump. Most of the blood of the left ventricle will be diverted to this new pump (the artificial device), which will maintain the essential circulation for the body,” said Sarkar.
“The man suffered a devastating heart attack about three months back. We did a bypass surgery and he went back home, but his heart function was not picking up at all. The heart muscles were badly damaged. He had symptoms like breathlessness and needed repeated hospitalisation,” said Sarkar.
“We did not want the situa- tion to turn worse. We had listed him for a heart transplant but a heart transplant is unpredictable…. If there are 100 people listed for heart transplant, on an average 20 people get it,” Sarkar said.
As the patient was getting clinically sicker, the doctors decided to go for an artificial implant of the left ventricle.
Sarkar said about 300 people across the world have undergone artificial left ventricular implantation and survived more than seven years after the procedure.
A person fitted with a device can work normally but is advised to not swim..