Surgeons at the Virgen de la Victoria hospital in Malaga, also known as the Clínico, have successfully carried out the first definitive intracorporeal artificial heart implant in the province. The device enables patients with severe heart failure who are not suitable for a normal heart transplant to live a more normal life.
The operation was carried out on 22 June on a 67 year-old patient with advanced heart failure and short life expectancy. He has been monitored by the hospital’s cardiology department for the past 12 years, and all other options had run out.
The head of the department, Juan José Gómez Doblas, explained the details of the operation: “Technically, it involves implanting a centrifugal pump that connects the heart to the aorta artery and is placed inside the thorax. The device works by means of batteries that supply the necessary energy to extract the blood from the left ventricle and eject it into the ascending aorta, from where it is distributed to the whole organism,” he said.
Heart surgeons at the hospital have long experience in implanting similar devices, but of short duration, in patients with terminal heart failure, or waiting for a transplant or while recovering from one, among others. The difference this time is that the implant is permanent.
This highly complex operation was challenging not only for the surgeons and anaesthetists involved but also for the nursing staff. The patient agreed that it should be carried out, and authorisation had to be obtained from the hospital management and the Andalusian Health service before it could go ahead as an exceptional measure.