By Adam Sage in Paris
An artificial heart that beats almost exactly like the real thing is to be implanted in patients within three years in a trial that may offer hope to heart disease sufferers unable to receive a transplant.
The device, which uses electronic sensors to regulate the heart rate and blood flow, was developed by Alain Carpentier, France’s leading cardiac surgeon, and engineers from the group that makes Airbus aircraft. Presented yesterday, it was described by its inventors as the closest thing yet to the human heart. “If you show the graphs to a cardiac surgeon, he will say it’s a human heart,” Professor Carpentier said. “But no, it’s not a human heart, it’s the prosthesis.”
He said that he had spent two decades on the project because “I found it intolerable to see young people – aged 40, 45 or 50 – dying of massive heart attacks without having a prosthesis available to replace their hearts”.
The French announcement is the latest in a race by doctors to produce a device that could be fitted into the 20,000 patients a year worldwide who are unable to receive a life-saving heart transplant because of a shortage of donors.