The patient, from the northern Adriatic town of Rovnij, was suffering from terminal heart failure in two of his heart chambers, with a heart transplant not possible because of increased resistance in pulmonary circulation, doctors decided to perform the operation. A total artificial heart (TAH) is a device that replaces the two lower chambers of the heart.
Specialist surgeon Bojan Biočina led his team, which included Davor Miličić, and anesthetist Višnja Ivančan, through the operation. The patient, who is the believed to be the first patient in the country without his ‘own heart’, is recovering week and is set to be released from hospital in the next four weeks. He is expected to undergo a heart transplant in 6 – 12 months time, said daily 24sata.
The TAH is attached to the heart’s upper chamber. Between the TAH and the atria are mechanical valves that work like the heart’s own valves. Valves control the flow of blood in the heart. A battery powers this TAH and is charged through the skin with a special magnetic charger. A TAH usually extends life for months beyond what is expected with end-stage heart failure, and is used to keep patients alive as they wait for a heart donor. It is challenging for surgeons to implant, and only in a small number of people have them installed.