Ailing Italian Baby Saved Thanks To World’s Smallest Artificial Heart And Superhero Doctors
It’s a miracle that any child is born healthy, but for those children and infants who are burdened with weighty health issues, their rescue is often times even more miraculous. Such as a little 16-month-old Italian boy who, after being diagnosed with a heart muscle disease, found his way back to health via the world’s smallest artificial heart and a damn near superhero medical team. Seriously, they might as well be wearing capes as far as I’m concerned.
The baby, whose identity has yet to be revealed, suffered from dilated myocardiopathy which according to Reuters, causes fibers of the heart to enlarge. Eventually, the heart becomes so weak that that the organ stops functioning. To make matters worse, the baby had developed an infection in response to one mechanical pump that had been inserted to aid the pumping of his actual heart. As doctors waited on a transplant, they were wary of operating further on the child who had been in surgery several times before. But the fighting toddler had been in intensive care since he was one month old, incentivizing the medical team to seek out other options. Surgeon Antonio Amodeo conveyed his and his team’s deep dedication to the child by saying:
“Every day, every hour, for more than one year he was with us. So when we had a problem we couldn’t do anything more than our best.”
The option they found was a tiny titanium pump that weighed only 11 grams, invented by an American. To give you an idea of just how small this pump actually is, consider that the average adult human pump is 900 grams, Reuters reports.
The only snag was that the pump had only been previously tested in animals. But after getting permission from both the American inventor and the Italian health ministry, doctors pushed ahead with the idea and inserted the world’s smallest artificial heart. The contraption kept the baby alive for 13 days when — in another stroke of luck — a transplant turned up.
In what Amodeo describes as a “milestone” procedure, the success has suggested that the tiny artificial heart could not only be used as a temporary gadget, but perhaps even permanently — therefore potentially saving the lives of future children.