Total Artificial Heart Breakthrough: Michigan Man Discharged With Manmade Ticker

Total Artificial Heart

For the first time ever, a Total Artificial Heart has enabled a man to be discharged from the hospital.

At the University of Michigan Medical Center, brothers Stan and Domo Larkin suffer from a genetic condition, known as familial cardiomyopathy.

They were born with hearts that have trouble properly pumping blood throughout the body. The condition is life-threatening, and without the Total Artificial Heart, aka Freedom driver, both men would be dead.

But thanks to a 13.5-pound driver that Stan is now able to carry around in a backpack, he has been allowed to go home from the hospital.

Connected to the driver are two tubes that come out of Stan’s body, which in turn are connected to the artificial heart inside.

As long as Stan has the medical device, he can function free from the hospital as his brother Domo continues to be connected to a 418-pound compressor at the hospital.

(The hospital hopes to fit Domo with a Total Artificial Heart soon.)

According to cardiac surgeon Jonathan Haft with U-M Hospital, Stan’s condition was “changing very quickly and we did not think he would survive long enough until a suitable heart was identified for him,” noting that a physical heart transplant is the best option for Stan’s long-term survival.

M-Live notes that both brothers are aware Big Blue, the Total Artificial Heart, and the Freedom Driver, are temporary fixes, but they’ve taken a great deal of encouragement from one another.

“We’re always here for one another,” said Domo. “This whole thing drew us a lot closer. It became that we understood what was going on with each other’s condition more than anybody else.”

“We’ve always had to look out for each other and deal with each other’s episodes, no matter who was around. It made our bond close. I felt the safest when he was was around, and I can’t wait to go home and be with my family and just sleep in my own bed again.”

Haft explained that until recently, patients like the Larkins “would have to stay in the hospital until they had their heart transplant.”

“The equipment that is outside the body, which powers the device and controls the device, was not suitable for discharge. Recently they’ve introduced new technology that allows these patients to go home… Now that he [Stan] has this artificial heart, and his circulation is maintained with this mechanical pump, he is otherwise completely healthy. He’s very active, very functional, and I expect that over time he’s going to get stronger and stronger.”

Would you feel safe with a Total Artificial Heart or would you rather stay at the hospital until the transplant?