Fri May 25, 2012 4:42PM
A team of Italian doctors at Rome's Bambino Gesu hospital have kept a 16-month-old infant alive by implanting the world's smallest artificial heart. The baby, who suffered from dilated myocardiopathy, was kept alive for 13 days until a donor was found for a transplant. Myocardiopathy is a heart muscle disease that causes stretched or enlarged fibers of the heart gradually making the organ weaker and limiting its ability to pump blood effectively. "This is a milestone," surgeon Antonio Amodeo told Reuters. "From a surgical point of view, this was not really difficult. The only difficulty that we met is that the child was operated on several times before." The artificial heart is a tiny, 11-gram titanium pump that can handle a blood flow of 1.5 liters a minute. An artificial adult heart weighs 900 grams. Invented by American doctor Robert Jarvik, the device had been previously tested on animals. TE/TE