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World's smallest artificial heart
Italian heart surgeon Antonio Amodeo and his team implant a tiny titanium pump, the world's smallest artificial heart, in a baby, at the Bambino Gesu' Hospital in Rome, in this undated handout picture released to Reuters May 24, 2012. Doctors from Rome's Bambino Gesu' Hospital saved the life of the 16-month-old baby in March with the artificial heart, which weighs only 11 grams, before the infant received an organ donation. REUTERS/Press Office Bambino Gesu' Hospital

World's smallest artificial heart

25 May 2012

Italian doctors have saved the life of a 16-month-old boy by implanting the world's smallest artificial heart to keep the infant alive until a donor was found for a transplant.The doctors at Rome's Bambino Gesu hospital said the operation was carried out last month and made public this week. The baby, whose identity has not been disclosed, was kept alive for 13 days before the transplant and is now doing well.The baby was suffering from dilated myocardiopathy, a heart muscle disease which normally causes stretched or enlarged fibers of the heart. The disease gradually makes the heart weaker, stopping its ability to pump blood effectively."This is a milestone," surgeon Antonio Amodeo told Reuters television, adding that while the device was now used as bridge leading to a transplant, in the future it could be permanent.The tiny titanium pump weighs only 11 grams and can handle a blood flow of 1.5 liters a minute. An artificial heart for adults weighs 900 grams.The hospital needed special permission from Jarvik and the Italian health ministry before going ahead with the procedure.(REUTERS)