Health Team

Boy's heart stops, machine keeps blood pumping

Posted July 25, 2008 5:53 p.m. EDT
Updated July 25, 2008 6:57 p.m. EDT

An 8-year-old boy waiting for a heart transplant is being kept alive by an experimental device that can be used only in dire circumstances.

Two months ago, Blake Busmire's heart completely shut down after the onset of a rare condition.

"It's scary," Regina Busmire, Blake's mother, said. "We never in a million years expected anything like this to happen."

A portable machine is the only thing keeping Blake alive as he lives in a hospital waiting for heart transplant.

"This is a Berlin Heart, and it has four tubes that help my heart," Blake said.

The tubes are connected to his heart, which no longer works. A device around his waist pumps blood through his body.

The federal Food and Drug Administration has not approved the Berlin Heart due to a high chance of complications. The device an only be used in special cases when a patient's heart cannot survive on its own.

"There's serious risk associated with these devices," said Dr. Umesh Joashi, with the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. "Without it, Blake wouldn't be here now, but there's risk of stroke, of bleeding, of infection."

Without those complications, Blake may live for up to a year on the machine.

Doctors said Blake's chances of getting a replacement heart are very good, and his mother said he is at the top of the list for a transplant.

"That's why I'm a lucky kid," Blake said.