India's first artificial heart pump implant successful

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For the first time in India, an artificial heart pump was successfully implanted on a 58-year-old heart patient at a hospital in Chennai, breaking new grounds in the advance cardiac therapy.

The sophisticated “HeartMate-II LVAD” (Left Ventricular Assist Device) helps the human heart in pumping blood to the body system. “It is not just a technological breakthrough but has also given hope for many heart patients,” said Dr K R Balakrishnan, cardiothoracic surgeion and Director of Cardiac Sciences at Fortis Malar Hospital (FMH) in Chennai.

A heart transplant is believed to be the best cure for chronic heart diseases if initial treatments like drugs, angioplasty, bypass surgery or pacemakers fail. However, the long wait for a heart donor has made “artificial heart pump” devices important, the team said.
HeartMate-II LVAD is a small, battery-driven rotor pump device, the latest version of which is made of “sintered microsphere titanium”, said Dr Suresh Rao, one of the team members who performed the surgery on Rajasekar, a chronic heart patient, who had virtually given up his struggle when he first came to the hospital.

He said though the device is said to be the latest in medical technology, research institutions in the USA, France and Germany have been working on an artificial pump since 2001. Former US Vice-President Dick Cheney is among the many benefitted from this implant, he added.

Two small batteries that power the pump, are connected to the device by a small cable “that comes out of the body”. Along with a small controller, the external end of the device is kept in a pouch under the patient’s clothing, Dr Balakrishnan explained.

Costing above $1,00,000 (approximately above Rs 55 lakh), the device was manufactured by a US company and specially imported with the Centre’s permission for performing the surgery on Rajasekar, he said. The surgery was performed at the hospital on November 19 after which the patient was kept on a ventilator for three days.

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