This picture shows the pioneering tiny titanium heart, which weighs just 11grams and is the smallest artificial heart in the world, that has helped save the life of a 16-month-old boy.
Surgeons implanted the device, a miniscule pump, to keep the toddler alive until a donor organ was found bridging a new medical milestone.
The boy had the operation at Rome’s Bambino Gesu hospital last month and had the implant for 13 days before he had a transplant. He is now doing well.
The baby was suffering from dilated myocardiopathy, a heart muscle disease which normally causes stretched or enlarged fibres of the heart. The disease gradually makes the heart weaker, stopping its ability to pump blood effectively.
‘This is a milestone,’ surgeon Antonio Amodeo said.
He added that while the device was now used as bridge leading to a transplant, in the future it could be permanent.
Before the implant, the child also had a serious infection around a mechanical pump that had been fitted earlier to support the function of his natural heart.
‘From a surgical point of view, this was not really difficult. The only difficulty that we met is that the child was operated on several times before,’ he said.
The tiny titanium pump weighs 11 grams and can handle a blood flow of 1.5 litres a minute. An artificial heart for adults weighs 900 grams.