Baby with artificial heart celebrates second birthday

A BABY in Portugal with an artificial heart has just celebrated his second birthday. Vasco enjoyed a birthday party complete with cake and the singing of ‘Parabéns a Você’ (Happy Birthday) at the Hospital de Santa Marta in Lisbon, where he is awaiting a heart from a child of the same age and weight.

The implant of an artificial organ took place on August 9, a decision taken in light of the worsening health of baby Vasco, who has been affected by a form of heart disease. The operation was the first to ever take place in Portugal and was carried out by surgeon José Fragata. This type of procedure helps prolong life while a transplant is awaited.

Two months have already passed since the implantation of the artificial heart, which, according to surgeon José Fragata, is not an unusual length of time: “There are children who wait four or five months for the operation.” However, the maximum time waited prior to a transplant has been 420 days.

Despite being linked to several machines, little Vasco “is well and has already left the unit (Unidade de Pediatria de Cirurgia Cardíaca), to take a walk in the hospital,” says the surgeon who carried out the operation. Apparently, the baby, who continues to play with his parents and eat normally through his mouth, is demonstrating good motor skill development.

In the entire world, up until now, only around 125 artificial hearts have been implanted. There is a success rate of above 50 per cent or, in other words, in the majority of cases, the patients are able to survive with the support of the apparatus until they can have a heart transplant.