US man goes 555 days without heart

  • 11/06/2016
Stan Larkin (University of Michigan)
Stan Larkin (University of Michigan)

A US man has just received a heart transplant, after living 555 days without the organ.

Stan Larkin, 25, has lived an everyday life in Michigan since 2014, wearing a backpack which holds a device powering an artificial heart in his chest.

"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," Mr Larkin told CNN.

"I'm going home so fast after the transplant because it helped me stay healthy before the 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," Mr Larkin said.

Artificial hearts have been used in patients for long periods before, but Mr Larkin is one of the few in the world to go home and live a relatively normal life with one.

The SynCardia temporary artificial heart replaced Mr Larkin's heart, including its chambers and four valves. Two tubes come out from Stan's side below the rib cage and connect to the 5.8kg device in the backpack, called the Freedom Driver.

The device in the backpack powers the artificial heart and pumps compressed air into the heart's ventricles, allowing blood to move through the body.

With the backpack on, Mr Larkin was able to play basketball and take his three toddlers to the park.

"It's just like a real heart," Mr Larkin said. "It's just in a bag with tubes coming out of you, but other than that, it feels like a real heart… It felt just like a backpack with books in it, like if you were going to school."

US man goes 555 days without heart

The device shows how advanced heart surgery technology has become since 2001, when the first artificial heart was implanted in a patient, University of Louisville cardiovascular surgery leader Dr Laman Gray said.

"We're making great progress, and people are living normal lives. There's definitely a place for total artificial hearts and a need for them," he said.

Mr Larkin now has a new heart, and is recovering from his procedure. He'll be home again in days.