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Artificial Heart Recipient Goes Home With Freedom Driver

Charles Okeke is the first patient in the US to go home with an artificial heart. The Freedom Driver that powers his Syncardia Total Artificial Heart is just what the doctor ordered, replacing a 400 pound behemoth that keeps artificial heart recipients tied to hospitals.


(Updated Freedom Driver for artificial heart video)

The artificial heart, which can pump up to 9.5 liters of blood for the patient, was powered for more than 600 days by a 400-pound machine they call "Big Blue" because of its girth and color. The size of the machine required that Okeke remain hospitalized all that time.

That all changed on March 26, 2010, when the FDA granted conditional approval for a 13-pound version of the machine that does the same job in pumping blood that Big Blue did — only with much greater portability. The compact version, called the Freedom Driver, can be carried or worn as a backpack. And it allowed Okeke to finally go home to his family.

SF fans may recall that Captain Jean-Luc Picard required an artificial heart following an unfortunate incident in a bar brawl. A power surge from it almost killed him some years later.


(Picard takes one in the heart)

SF movie fans may recall The Family Heart Center from the 1987 movie Robocop; see the video below.


(The Family Heart Center from Robocop video)

Via Mayo Clinic.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/25/2010)

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