Thursday, December 25, 2008

Is It Possible for a Teenager to live without a Heart for nearly 4 Months?

An American teenager of age 14 managed to survive for 118 days without a heart. She suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy, which is a condition that the patient's heart becomes weakened and enlarged and could not pump blood efficiently. This type of heart disease would require her to undertake a heart transplant for her survival.

On November 19, 2008, doctors in Miami announced that the young patient was kept alive by a custom-made artificial blood-pumping device, and they believe that this was the first time a child had survived in this manner for such a long period. In fact, an adult patient in Germany had been kept alive for 9 months without a heart.

At a news conference at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Centre, the young girl seemed very weak and admitted that the experience was very scary. She just felt that she was like a fake person who did not really exist. Meanwhile, she was so afraid that the device might just malfunction at any moment.

Earlier on July 2, she had a heart transplant at Miami’s Holtz Children’s Hospital but the new heart failed to work properly and the doctors had to remove it quickly. Then, the doctors had to implant 2 heart pumps, made by Thoratec Corp of Pleasanton, California, to keep her blood flowing while she was fighting a host of ailments and recovering her strength. After almost 4 months, she had another heart transplant on October 29. Though she remained hospitalized, she was mobile during the period of 118 days, to be exact.

The young patient also suffered renal failure and a kidney transplant was carried out the day after the second heart transplant. Though her prognosis was good, there is a 50 percent chance that a heart transplant patient will require a new heart some 12 or 13 years after the first surgery.

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