A Northern Ireland man is the first recipient of an artificial heart pump the size of a golf ball.
Harold Chivers, a 63-year-old man from Bangor, County Down, is the first person in the world to get the Miniaturized Ventricular Assist Device (MVAD) implanted.
The MVAD sits at the base of the heart, helping to pump blood around the organ. The device costs about £80,000, and is smaller than its precursors. Particular settings allow for the MVAD to adjust to the patient’s lifestyle and routines.
Chivers suffered a heart attack late last year. With his health declining, Chivers was waiting in line for a heart transplant until the opportunity of this new surgery became available.
Carried out by Professor Stephan Schueler, a consultant cardiac surgeon at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, England, the operation was deemed successful. Under careful monitoring, Chivers is making great progress to a full recovery and is expected to return home within a matter of days, says Professor Schueler.
"I feel great, it has really improved my breathing and the operation has gone really well,” said Harold Chivers, speaking to the Telegraph. “I am getting a lot better, I'm eating a lot better, I'm getting around and working on my physio. There's a long way to go but I'm going to do it.”
Professor Schueler said of his patient: “He is in the process of being taught how to use it, keep it clean and how to change the batteries. There are lots of safety features, it is like taking your driver's license."
The MVAD is powered by an external battery pack connected by a wire, which can be carried easily by the patient. At 78 grams, the device is about half as big as its predecessors, and is about the size of a golf ball.
Because of its small size, children with heart disease could be eligible to have an MVAD fitted.
While Harold Chivers was the first, dozens of patients will now be part of a trial process as the MVAD is tested in medical centers around the world.