Italian doctors in Rome managed to successfully implant the world's smallest artificial heart in a 16-month old baby before conducting another surgery to transplant a real heart.
Doctors at Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital used a tiny titanium device invented by American doctor Robert Jarvik and conducted a complex eight hour surgery on the baby. The device was fitted in order to keep the baby alive for 13 days after which the real heart was transplanted.
The baby, whose name and gender has not been disclosed, was diagnosed with a condition known as dilated myocardiopathy in which the fibers in the heart are stretched or elongated. The doctors fitted the device, weighing just 11 grams, before a donor was found.
"The operation was extremely complex and the child subsequently underwent a heart transplant, but currently, two months after surgery, the child is doing well and is in excellent health", Dr Antonio Amodeo, who led the surgery, said.