An American teenager survived for nearly four months without a heart, kept alive by a custom-built artificial blood-pumping device, until she was able to have a heart transplant
An American teenager survived for nearly four months without a heart, kept alive by a custom-built artificial blood-pumping device, until she was able to have a heart transplant, doctors in Miami said on Wednesday.
The doctors said they knew of another case in which an adult had been kept alive in Germany for nine months without a heart but said they believed this was the first time a child had survived in this manner for so long.
The patient, D'Zhana Simmons of South Carolina, said the experience of living for so long with a machine pumping her blood was "scary".
"You never knew when it would malfunction," she said, her voice barely above a whisper, at a news conference at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center.
"It was like I was a fake person, like I didn't really exist. I was just here," she said of living without a heart.
Simmons, 14, suffered fromdilated cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the patient's heart becomes weakened and enlarged and does not pump blood efficiently.
She had a heart transplant on July 2 at Miami's Holtz Children's Hospital but the new heart failed to function properly and was quickly removed.
Two heart pumps made by Thoratec Corp of Pleasanton, California, were implanted to keep her blood flowing while she fought a host of ailments and recovered her strength. Doctors implanted another heart on Oct 29.
"She essentially lived for 118 days without a heart, with her circulation supported only by the two blood pumps," said Dr Marco Ricci, the hospital's director of pediatric cardiac surgery. During that time, Simmons was mobile but remained hospitalized.
When an artificial heart is used to sustain a patient, the patient's own heart is usually left in the body, doctors said.
In some cases, adult patients have been kept alive that way for more than a year, they said.
"This, we believe, is the first pediatric patient who has received such a device in this configuration without the heart, and possibly one of the youngest that has ... been bridged to transplantation without her native heart," Ricci said.
Transplant pioneer dies
Dr Adrian Kantrowitz, a cardiac surgeon who performed the first human heart transplant in the United States and who also developed lifesaving medical implants, has died. He was 90.
Kantrowitz died last Friday in Ann Arbor of complications from heart failure, said his wife, Jean Kantrowitz.
In 1967, Kantrowitz performed a human heart transplant three days after the world's first was performed in South Africa.
But the transplant, on an infant who died several hours later, was only a small part of his life's work to solve the problem of heart failure, his wife said.
Adrian Kantrowitz invented and for decades continued to improve the left ventricular assist device, or LVAD, which would later lend its name to his Detroit-based research company, L-VAD Technology Inc.
The device is designed to be permanently implanted in patients with otherwise-terminal heart failure, helping their hearts circulate blood and allowing them to leave the hospital.
Kantrowitz also invented other lifesaving cardiac devices, including the intra-aortic balloon pump.
He never retired, and "he never lost his mental alertness", said Jean Kantrowitz. He was an avid pilot, motorcyclist and sailor.
dilated cardiomyopathy: 扩张型心肌病（DCM）是原因不明的以单侧或双侧心室扩大，心室收缩功泵功能障碍，伴或不伴充血性心力衰竭。
intra-aortic balloon pump: IABP, 主动脉内球囊反搏泵
（英语点津 Helen 编辑）