Arizona-based SynCardia Systems is making life easier (and longer) for patients waiting for a heart transplant.
The company manufactures an artificial heart that replaces the organ’s two lower chambers that pump blood through the body. And it can keep patients alive longer while they wait for a donor heart to become available.
It’s portable, too. So patients can go home instead of staying at the hospital the whole time.
One New York City resident, Daquain Jenkins, was recently implanted with the technology. He received a real donor heart in August. But when it failed, doctors removed the heart and replaced it with SynCardia’s plastic alternative.
Dr. Anelechi Anyanwu, who performed Jenkins’ operation, says that while the technology is certainly adequate, the company understands that there’s a lot of room for improvement…
“In a way, it’s just a crude mechanical pump that just moves blood in one direction, and that’s where we are now,” he says. “But there are several developments going on, for example – to make smaller pumps, to have better power supplies and ultimately to have a pump [where] the whole mechanism is within the body.”
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So it might not be the most sophisticated technology at this time. But even with the current version, the company has provided patients with 300 years of extra life so far.
And as the technology becomes more advanced, some heart surgeons believe that a permanent artificial heart may soon be an option for some patients.