Patient Walks Out With Fully Artificial Heart

Stan Larkin was born with an inherited heart condition; arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, or ARVD, a disease that causes irregular heart rhythms. Last week, he became the first patient to walk out of University of Michigan hospital with an entirely artificial heart.


(UM patient with artificial heart)

It took a few days for 24-year-old Stan Larkin to get used to the sound of his new heartbeat, but now he barely even notices it.

The pumping sounds similar to a horse's quick gallop across a cold, hard trail, and can be heard from several feet away. He gets questions about it on a regular basis, and each time he calmly answers.

"It's called a Freedom driver. My heart was too weak to pump blood through my body so I got a Total Artificial Heart and the driver pumps the blood," he explained.

Stan, of Ypsilanti, wears the 13.5-pound Freedom portable driver in a backpack and hauls it around with him 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The backpack is literally what keeps Stan alive.

The Total Artificial Heart uses the Freedom portable driver to achieve true mobility for heart patients.

The FDA approved the Freedom portable driver June 26, and Stan made history by becoming U-M Hospital's first Total Artificial Heart patient to be discharged using the device. Doctors at U-M also said he's the first patient in the Midwest to be discharged on the Freedom driver.

"Until recently, patients would have to stay in the hospital until they had their heart transplant. The equipment that is outside the body, which powers the device and controls the device, was not suitable for discharge. Recently they've introduced new technology that allows these patients to go home," Haft said.

"Now that he has this artificial heart, and his circulation is maintained with this mechanical pump, he is otherwise completely healthy. He's very active, very functional, and I expect that over time he's going to get stronger and stronger."

Philip K. Dick fans have been anticipating this ever since reading Dr. Futurity in 1960:

He glanced up from his work for a moment. Into the girl's chest he had plugged a Dixon pump...

"Keep the people back," Parsons said, and resumed work. The throb of the robot pump gave him confidence; it had been inserted very well, and the load had left the girl's circulatory system.

Via Mlive.

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