An artificial heart and a power pack: A new life - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

An artificial heart and a power pack: A new life


ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Heart transplants and artificial hearts are nothing new. In fact, more than 1,000 people, world-wide, have artificial hearts, but what is new is the latest technology for patients in need of a heart transplant. In fact, it's here at Mayo Clinic. Where, tomorrow, Minnesota's first patient with a man-made heart and power pack will discharged from the hospital.

The latest success story is 51-year old Alvin Carter of Michigan. In March, he received an artificial heart transplant here at Mayo Clinic. The 'Freedom Portable Driver',which Carter is using, is part of a study by the company's manufacturer, SynCardia. The company has been making artificial hearts since the 1980's. The Freedom Portable Driver offers patients something new, freedom. In the past, if patients had portable hearts they were confined to the hospital.

The machine operates on two ion batteries and is powered by air. Here's how the heart works. Patients under-go surgery to have a total artificial heart implanted. Then two small tubes attached to the heart exit the patients body through the abdominal wall. The tubes are connected to the portable driver, which provides calibrated pulses of air and allows the heart to pump.

Many people wear the 13-pound Freedom Portable Driver as a back-pack, allowing them to live a life similar to those with human hearts. What makes this especially relevant is that on any given day, 3,300 people in the U-S are waiting for a new heart, but only about 2,200 are available.

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