Health Team

Adoptive father of 2-year-old becomes first patient to get artificial heart at Duke

A Duke University Hospital surgical team has made history, implanting an artificial heart and becoming the first team to do so in the U.S. and North America.

Posted Updated

Bryan Mims
, WRAL reporter
DURHAM, N.C. — It's the first surgery of it's kind in North America. It's medical history. And it happened at Duke University Hospital.

Surgeons implanted a new-generation artificial heart into a patient.

Duke is one of three transplant centers in the US selected to take part in this FDA study.

Matthew Moore, 39, was the first patient to enroll -- and go through with the procedure.

His surgery took place Monday, lasting about eight hours. Surgeons implanted an artificial heart, created by CARMAT, a company specializing in heart implant technologies.

In June, he was transferred to Duke with advanced disease of both of his heart chambers. He deteriorated rapidly, and a traditional heart transplant became too dangerous.

"The surgery itself is something that you'll rarely see. Essentially what you do is remove the left and right ventricles and then place the artificial heart in its place," said Dr. Jacob Shroder, one of the surgeons.
The CARMAT device supports both chambers and includes valves made from bovine tissue. It's powered by batteries outside the patient.
The principal investigator of the device at Duke, Doctor Carmelo Milano, also performed the surgery and says his patient is doing very well.

"The device is meant to help patients that have end-stage or severe failure of both the right side of the heart -- or the right ventricle -- and the left ventricle," said Milano.

Current technology – namely a left-ventricular assist device – supports just one chamber of the heart.

The device is not supposed to be permanent: It serves as a stopgap for the most critical patients awaiting a heart transplant.

"We expect that people can live for years with this device," said Milano. "Our goal is to transplant Mr. Moore, as soon as he's ready. I hope that in three or four months, maybe less, we'll be able to transplant him."

The patient and his wife, Rachel, who's also a nurse, are foster parents who just recently adopted a 2-year-old foster son. She says their faith in God has kept them going.

"He's still here because he has something left to do," she says. "There's no other explanation than our faith in God."

Her husband is recovering in the hospital. If he keeps doing well, he'll sent home to await a real heart.


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