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Artificial heart patient dies

Terminally ill 76-year-old lived for 75 days after Paris operation and doctors praise his bravery

FRANCE’S first artificial heart patient has died after 75 days. It is not yet known what caused the death of the 76-year-old, the Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris said.

The man was fitted with the Carmat artificial heart by professors Christian Latrémouille and Daniel Duveau on December 18. He was suffering terminal heart failure, when the heart can no longer pump enough blood to sustain life.

Doctors who treated the man, and those who fitted the artificial heart, saluted his bravery in accepting to be part of the first clinical trial of the heart and “making a memorable contribution” in efforts to combat heart disease.

Carmat, a French company, sees the artificial heart as a way to allow heart patients to live for longer while awaiting a heart transplant and to return home and maybe even resume work.

Developed by Professor Alain Carpentier, who founded Carmat, the 900g heart is a self-contained unit implanted in the patient's chest, and uses soft "biomaterials" and an array of sensors, rather than a pump, to mimic the heart’s contractions.

It is thought that three other patients are due to receive Carmat hearts – with the success of the operation being achieved if they live longer than four or five weeks. The world’s first heart transplant patient died 18 days after the operation in 1967.

Previous article: French firm trials artificial heart
Prof Alain Carpentier photo: Julien Muguet-IP3

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