FRANCE

French artificial heart patient ‘never felt so good’

AFP/File | An employee of Carmat inspects an artificial heart manufactured by the French firm in Velizy, a suburb of Paris, on September 24, 2009

The second patient to receive an artificial heart made by French firm Carmat is leading a normal life including physical exercise, eight months after his transplant, the 69-year-old man told weekly Le Journal du Dimanche in an interview.

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The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, was terminally ill with a heart condition when he received the transplant exactly eight months ago in the western city of Nantes.

The transplant is part of a key trial for a much talked-about artificial heart created by French firm Carmat. The first recipient – 76-year-old Claude Dany – died in March 2014, 10 weeks after receiving the experimental device.

But the second patient has fared much better. He was sent home at the beginning of the year, and said Sunday in his first interview since his operation that he had "recovered" and resumed his normal life.

"I walk, I get up and I bend over 10 to 15 times a day, without any problem. I keep my balance. I'm not bothered. I don't even think about it," the father of two told the JDD weekly.

"In fact, I have never felt so good," he said.

Two more trial transplants scheduled

The patients chosen for Carmat’s artificial heart trials suffer from terminal heart failure.

The company plans to operate on four patients in its trial phase, and it said last year it had made changes following the death of the first patient due to a short circuit in the device.

In an interview published on Friday in western French daily Presse Océan, Daniel Duveau, one of the surgeons who operated on the second Carmat patient, said the next two transplants should be scheduled in the coming months.

The artificial heart uses soft "biomaterials" intended to lessen the risk of blood clots and rejection by the immune system. It is powered by a belt of lithium batteries.

Patient wants to resume martial arts

Professor Daniel Duveau, the surgeon who operated on the man, told Europe 1 radio on Friday of his great surprise when his patient said he was even riding a bike outside.

"As part of his rehabilitation, we made him do a number of physical activities such as riding an exercise bike, and when we last met, he told us 'of course, I have a bike, a traditional bike and I ride but... don't worry, I avoid big hills'," he said.

Duveau added that the patient, a black belt judoka, also wanted to resume the martial art, though his doctors had told him to ask their permission before doing so.

Nearly 100,000 people in Europe and the United States are in need of a heart transplant, according to Carmat, which plans to carry out the first phase of feasibility trials on four terminal patients.

The second phase will see around 20 patients receive an artificial heart, according to Carmat.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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