Living 555 days without a heart; an ode to medical advancements

Stan Larkin lived for 555 days without a heart, waiting for a new organ to be transplanted. The news stunned the whole medical community and it seems to have catapulted technology advancement into a new era.

Larkin’s heart was removed in November 2014 and was replaced with an artificial heart that was pumping in his chest. This device was connected to a power source stored in a backpack that Larkin used to carry. This set up allowed him to stay at home instead of in a hospital waiting for a new heart.

Finally in May 2016, the replacement arrived and Larkin was transplanted with it at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. He is currently recovering from his procedure.

Larkin reported to CNN news officials “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. I’m going home so fast after the transplant because it helped me stay healthy before the transplant.”

Larkin was unaware that he was suffering from a genetic heart condition called familial cardiomyopathy, until nine years ago when he collapsed while playing a basketball game. His brother Dominique, 24 was also found to have the same disease.

Dr. Jonathan Haft, a cardiac surgeon at University of Michigan who operated both brothers reported that “It’s an awful condition to have. But the technology available and the technology that is evolving in the field of heart failure is very exciting. The total artificial heart falls into that category.”

heart 1

Domonique Larkin, left, and his brother Stan Larkin, relied on total artificial hearts before successful heart transplants at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. Source: University of Michigan Health System

In late 2014, both brothers progressed to cardiogenic shock. Dominique, the younger brother stayed in hospital for six weeks waiting for a new heart, but Larkin who was thriving for the same was a perfect candidate to stay outside hospital.

“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,” Larkin said.

Source: CNN news

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