Heartless basketball player — Really!

A 25-year-old has just received a full heart transplant… but not before surviving for more than a year without a human heart inside his body.

Instead, Stan Larkin wore an ‘artificial heart’ in a backpack 24/7 for 555 days, which pumped blood around his body and kept him alive. The success of the procedure suggests that the device could be used to sustain other patients with total heart failure while they’re waiting for a donor.

Back in 2014, Stan became the first patient in Michigan to be discharged with the artificial heart device, which is known as a ‘Syncardia’.

He and his brother Dominique had both been diagnosed as teenagers with familial cardiomyopathy, which is a genetic heart condition that can cause heart failure without any warning – it’s one of the leading causes of death in athletes.

After years on the donor waiting list, Stan – and eventually his younger brother Dominique – had their hearts removed and were fitted with the Syncardia device…

Dominique only needed to use the technology for a few weeks before receiving a full heart transplant. But Stan had to wait more than a year, and instead of staying in hospital, he was fitted with the Freedom® portable driver so he could go home in the meantime.

At the time, no one knew how much he’d be able to do with it. The portable device comes in the form of a 13.5 pound backpack that’s connected to the patient’s vascular system, to keep oxygenated blood pumping around the body…But he did manage to continue playing basketball – a total surprise to his doctors.

This wasn’t made for pick-up basketball,” said Dr. Jonathan Haft. “Stan pushed the envelope with this technology … He really thrived on the device.”

Stan received his donor heart on 9 May 2016, and has now fully recovered from the procedure. He’s shared his story, which he calls an “emotional rollercoaster” with the press to raise awareness about the 5.7 million other Americans living with heart failure, and the need for heart donors.

Kudos to the doctors and Stan. And the designers of the Freedom Syncardia device.

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