New Heart, New Hope

A 75-year-old patient receives an artificial heart and the potential for a longer life.

French surgeon and professor of medicine Alain Carpentier, head of the department of cardiovascular surgery and transplantation of organs at Georges Pompidou European hospital,poses in Paris on June 17, 2010.
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An unnamed man who was "nearing the end of his life," according to doctors, became the first person to receive an artificial heart on Wednesday at the Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris, the Australian Associated Press reported.

Unlike previous heart replacement devices, the Carmat heart is intended to last for as long as five years. It is fully artificial, yet closer to a human heart than any other heart device developed so far. "If your loved one came through the door [and you had a Carmat artificial heart], it would start to beat faster, just like a real one," Alain Carpentier, who developed the heart and led last week's surgery, told reporters in a press conference, according to the Independent.

The Carmat artificial heart is composed of biomaterials such as "bovine tissue," which is less likely than synthetic material to be rejected by the body's immune system, reports the Telegraph. Using two micro pumps attached to each ventricle or heart chamber, the device "mimics heart muscle contractions," notes Yahoo.

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Meanwhile tiny sensors evaluate the body's need for blood and respond appropriately,

Carpentier, who has spent more than a quarter of a century researching and designing the artificial heart, also told reporters he was grateful to the patient for allowing the operation. The patient is awake and talking, but thus far remains anonymous.

Marcello Conviti, CEO of Carmat, the biomedical firm that sells the artificial heart, is pleased with the success of the operation. "We are delighted with this first implant, although it is premature to draw conclusions given that a single implant has been performed and that we are in the early postoperative phase," reported Reuters.

French President François Hollande also took notice of the surgery's success. "France can be proud of this exceptional achievement in the service of human progress," he wrote in a letter to Carpentier.

Carmat's share price increased 30 percent on Monday, following the announcement of the successful heart transplant, according to France 24.

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And it's stock is valued at 450 million euros on the Paris stock exchange, as of Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Within the United States and Europe there are roughly 100,000 patients in need of heart transplants, reports the Telegraph.

The risk of heart failure is more common among men than women, notes Reuters. The Carmat heart weighs about two pounds and is roughly three times the size of the average healthy human heart, which makes it suitable for 86 percent of men but only 20 percent of women. However, Carmat says it can tailor its design to fit women.

The price of a Carmat heart is about $195,000, according to the Verge.

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