Mending Broken Paris Hearts – Meet the Man with No Pulse

Total Artificial Heart (video screen capture sample) Photo credit: SynCardia Systems

Total Artificial Heart (video screen capture sample) Photo credit: SynCardia Systems

I wrote a lengthy post (partly to try to mend our broken Paris hearts metaphorically) after a Google Hangout with my super cool and magical Paris friend Laurent  on the Saturday morning post-Paris Attacks. With Laurent‘s permission and help in providing some photos, this is a medical and technical post about why he is “magical” to me. And how a heart can be “mended” literally.

You see, Laurent had a major heart incident in June 2014 so he had to be implanted with a temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH info from US nih.gov) 17 months ago! He is literally being kept alive by the magic of a cutting edge TAH as he awaits a new heart. (I included the above sample picture. It may not be the exact model inside Laurent but it is a good picture and will give you some idea.) Note that a temporary TAH is approved for “bridge to heart transplantation” and is NOT supposed to be a “destination therapy“.

(Important Disclosure/Warning: I am not a medical doctor or researcher. I do not work for and am not related to SynCardia Systems nor Stanford University. Please always consult your own heart doctors and healthcare professionals for their expert advices. I am not an expert of artificial heart devices, and I don’t even play a doctor like House M.D on TV!)

After you read the above Important Disclosure/Warning, I want to say, as a tech-geek, I really enjoy my chat with Laurent and appreciate the photos and links he provided. Laurent’s and my hope is that this post may be of some use to some people waiting for their heart transplants or in similar predicament. Of course, at the end of the day, all errors and mistakes in this post are mine. And consult your own heart doctors and healthcare professionals for their expert advices!

The following is a picture of Laurent’s SynCardia Systems Companion 2 Hospital Driver (C2 Driver) docked with a companion Caddy (pdf fact sheet and 2013 PR press release).

One of the machines that is keeps my Paris friend Laurent alive.

One of the machines that is keeps my Paris friend Laurent alive. The other is his total artificial heart (TAH). Photo credit: Laurent

The C2 Driver‘s pushes air in and out of the two artificial ventricles of Laurent’s total artificial heart (TAH) implant. A side “benefit” of a total artificial heart is Laurent has no pulse which means a flat electrocardiogram if he does one.

With permission, here is a photo of two tubes going in.

Two tubes connected to the total artificial heart (TAH). Photo credit: Laurent

Two tubes connected to the total artificial heart (TAH). Photo credit: Laurent

And here is a photo of an emergency standby machine, just in case.

An emergency standby backup machine. Photo credit: Laurent

An emergency standby backup machine. Photo credit: Laurent

When Laurent does his exercises, he uses this smaller portable driver. (at 2:20 you see the driver moving the two valves.)

From my online research, I found this 2014 December blog posting “Stanford patient benefits from total artificial heart” and I see the video “Total Artificial Heart Option at Stanford (Includes Surgical Graphic Footage)” is linked and worth a watch as a reference to give you some idea.

MAJOR WARNING: Graphic images with blood and a surgically cut open heart.

Reference:

* Total Artificial Heart facts via SynCardia Systems (note that this is information from a commercial company, whereas these TAH info are from the independent US government nih.gov)

* 2015, Sept 2nd, SynCardia Press Release, “30 Years Ago Michael Drummond Became the 1st Heart Failure Patient to be Successfully Bridged to a Donor Heart Transplant

The initial five implants of the Total Artificial Heart were for permanent use. This was the first time a Total Artificial Heart, or any long-term mechanical assist device, was used to successfully bridge a patient to a donor heart transplant.

“This was the very first successful BTT—the beginning of the bridge-to-transplant era with the Total Artificial Heart. Now, we are surpassing 1,400 SynCardia Heart implants and 350 years of patient support,” says Richard Smith. Smith is the chief technology officer and one of three founders of SynCardia Systems […]

Nov 17, 2015 update: December 2012, British Journal of Hospital Medicine, “The total artificial heart in a cardiac replacement therapy programme

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