A father who suffered from a heart condition was able to survive for 555 days without a heart while waiting for a transplant that he would eventually receive.
Stan Larkin, a 25 year old Ypsilanti, Michigan, resident and father of three lived with a portable, artificial heart for almost two years while waiting on a a transplant.
Both Larkin and his brother, Dominique, 24, were diagnosed with the heart disease known as familial cardiomyopathy. This is a condition that occurs when the muscles of the heart stretch and open an area of the heart chamber.
Larkin didn’t know he had the condition until nine years ago, when he collapsed in the middle of a basketball game.
“It’s an awful condition to have,” Dr. Jonathan Haft, the cardiac surgeon who operated on the brothers, told CNN. “But the technology available and the technology that is evolving in the field of heart failure is very exciting. … The total artificial heart falls into that category.”
The First Portable Total Artificial Heart
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Both brothers were admitted to the hospital due to their condition, and while Dominique was attached to an artificial heart for six weeks before getting a transplant, Larkin acted as the candidate to try out a new, portable artificial heart that would allow him to live at home while waiting on his transplant.
“I was shocked when the doctors started telling me that I could live without a heart in my body and that a machine was going to be my heart. Just think about it — a machine,” Larkin told CNN.
The new artificial heart, called the Freedom driver, was just recently approved for use by the FDA. It is portable, artificial heart that uses compressed air to pump blood through the body. It is able to fit inside a small grey backpack which Larkin wore throughout the 555 day period, and it allowed him to participate in many of his favorite activities during that time, including playing basketball.
“I lived a normal life,” Larkin said. “I made myself play basketball on the device.”
Larkin was able to get his new heart last May and had a successful surgery. He has now returned home to his three children, and he attributes his quick recovery to the fact that the Freedom driver allowed him to stay healthy during the time he spent waiting for his new heart.
“Most people would be scared to go so long with [an artificial heart], but I just want to tell them that you have to go through the fear, because it helps you,” Larkin said. “I’m going home so fast after the transplant because it helped me stay healthy before the transplant.”
For more information on heart health, heart disease and how you can avoid it, click here.
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