For the first time in Israel, an artificial heart has been permanently implanted
into the chest of a cardiac patient; until now, mechanical hearts of plastic and
metal had been used here to boost pumping action of faulty hearts.
operation was reported on Sunday by the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in
Petah Tikva. The recipient is a 63-year-old man who suffered from severe cardiac
insufficiency and developed organ failure.
He was transferred in very
serious condition from another hospital.
Cardiologists decided initially
to implant an ECMO (Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) system to stabilize
him. But after five days, doctors diagnosed irreversible heart damage and said
the only solution was an artificial heart, as they believed that he would not
survive a human heart transplant. The artificial device is meant as a “bridge” to
strengthen him for the time he can undergo a human-heart transplant and an organ
Mechanical heart transplant expert Dr. Jack Copeland, of the
University of California at San Diego, flew in from the US to assist the Rabin
heart transplant surgeons, who were headed by Dr. Benny Medallion, head of the
heart-lung transplant unit.
They disconnected the ECMO machine, removed
the patient’s failing heart and implanted the artificial heart while he was
connected to a heart-lung machine.
The artificial device, made by the
Syncardia company, is called a “total artificial heart.” It is able to pump nine
liters per minute of blood through the body, compared to five liters in previous
devices that were used to support a heart rather than replace it. The new device
has fewer tubes, which reduces the risk of clots that could clog the
Until recently, said Medallion, the device was used only as a
“bridge,” but it was approved as a permanent pumping device to replace a failing
heart, and more than 1,000 such operations have been performed
Dr. Eyal Porat, head of the cardiothoracic branch at Beilinson,
said the staff had little time to prepare for the unusual surgery and received
much help from Israeli and foreign institutions.