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World's first artificial heart patient dies

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On Monday the Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris issued a statement, announcing the 76-year old unnamed-man fitted with the Carmat artificial heart in December had died Sunday.

The man, suffering from terminal heart failure, lived 75 days after the operation. Hospital officials explained that with terminal heart failure, the patient's heart was so sick it was unable to pump enough blood through his body to sustain it, leaving him with only a few weeks, perhaps days to live.

The hospital further added that at this time, the actual cause of the patient's death was yet to be determined. Representatives of Carmat, the company who manufactured the artificial device, could not be reached for comment.

The "bioprosthetic" heart was designed to last for up to five years as a replacement for someones real organ. It uses biological materials and sensors and mimics the real heart. The artificial heart is designed to help those patients awaiting a donor heart, as well as reducing the side-affects of the transplant procedure.

There are three more patients in severe heart failure in France waiting to be fitted with the artificial heart. The clinical trial with the device will be considered a success if the patients live at least a month.

If the Carmat device passes the test, there are 20 more patients with less severe heart failure who will be fitted with the artificial heart. They will be monitored for quality of life and to what extent their lives in general are improved.

The Carmat artificial heart is an expensive prosthetic device, costing around $200,000. But there is no amount of money that can be placed on a human life.

"The doctors directly involved in the post-surgical care wish to highlight the value of the lessons learned from this first clinical trial, with regard to the selection of the patient, his surveillance, the prevention and treatment of difficulties encountered," the hospital said in its statement.



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