Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Baby boy survives three months with artificial heart

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British baby Jack Vellam (13 months) went home from the hospital recently after an astounding 120 days on an artificial heart. Apparently, it was a record-breaking stay: that is the longest anyone so young has stayed on an artificial heart.

Five months ago, Jack was diagnosed with myocarditis - inflammation of the heart muscle. He had fallen ill suddenly and suffered a heart attack, then spent several days in intensive care. He became so ill that his mother agreed with doctors' recommendation that his life-support machine be turned off. "It was a heart-breaking ordeal for all of us," said his mom Danielle.

Then the docs unexpectedly came up with another option: a transplant, if a donor heart could be found. The parents reluctantly agreed, feeling they should give their little one a chance at life. That's when the artificial heart came in. Jack's artificial heart consisted of a pump (the "heart") outside of his body, connected to him via four tubes in the chest.

At that point, however, the myocarditis was discovered and the parents were informed that Jack might recover without a transplant. And, happily, that's what happened. Eventually, Jack underwent surgery (risky in and of itself) to disconnect him from the artificial heart. Said an elated pediatric cardiologist who helped save Jack's life: "This is the best of days for us; this is what we work for."

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