The University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center (UMCVC) has sent home a patient with a total artificial heart, a first in heart care in Michigan, according to a Newswise report.
The Freedom Driver, a portable 13-pound device designed to help patients at risk of dying from end-stage biventricular heart failure, allowed 24-year-old Stan Larkin, of Ypsilanti, Mich, to spend Christmas at home with family as he waits for a heart transplant.
He’s the first to leave a Michigan hospital without a human heart and is part of a unique group of heart patients in the United States who’ve gained independence because of the mobile technology.
“The device Stan has is the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart, a mechanical pump to bridge him to transplantation,” says University of Michigan cardiac surgeon Jonathan Haft, MD. “He’s still listed for a heart transplant and we hope to transplant him as soon as an organ is available. In the meantime he can be at home, he can be functional, and continue to rehabilitate himself so he’s in the best possible shape when his opportunity comes.”
With the total artificial heart there are two tubes that exit the body, and those tubes have to be connected to a machine that can deliver compressed air into the ventricles to allow blood to be pumped through the body.
Prior to the development of the Freedom portable driver, the only FDA-approved driver for the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart was the “Big Blue” hospital driver which weighs 418 pounds and is the size of a washing machine.
Due to a shortage of organs, total artificial heart patients supported by Big Blue were confined to the hospital for months, sometimes years, while waiting for a matching donor heart. The Freedom driver does the same thing as Big Blue — deliver the compressed air — except it is portable.
The portable power supply allows otherwise healthy patients to wait for a matching donor at home and in their communities instead of the hospital.