Physicians at Rigshospitalet perform the first ever artificial heart operation in Denmark

Physicians at Rigshospitalet are the first in Northern Europe to have implanted the Carmat fully artificial heart into a patient. Carmat can be an alternative to a heart transplant or a temporary solution for patients waiting for a transplant.

The Carmat fully artificial heart has been implanted into a patient at Rigshospitalet for the first time.

The heart is the most advanced fully artificial heart developed, and as part of a study, Denmark has become the first country in Northern Europe and the third country in the world to implant a Carmat heart into a patient. It is also the first implant of a fully artificial heart in Denmark.

A total of 13 patients have now received a Carmat heart, said Finn Gustafsson, a consultant and professor specialised in advanced heart failure and transplant surgery at the Department of Cardiology at Rigshospitalet.

"We're extremely pleased to be part of the study and to have gained clinical experience with Carmat. We hope that in future we’ll be able to offer this implant to patients who are critically ill with heart failure in both sides of the heart, and who cannot wait for a donor heart – or cannot get a transplant for other reasons. These are patients who we haven't been able to help until now, and the artificial heart will make a huge difference for them," said Finn Gustafsson.

Takes a highly trained team

Carmat is the world's first fully electric artificial heart and the first with a self-regulation system that adapts to the body. If a person with a Carmat heart rides a bicycle, goes up a flight of stairs or in some other way gets out of breath, the heart will react by increasing its pumping rhythm.

Peter Skov Olsen, a consultant and surgeon from the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Rigshospitalet led the team that performed the surgery on the first patient in Denmark.

"It takes a highly trained team of surgeons, anaesthesiologists, cardiologists, nurses and physiotherapists to make the operation and the rest of the process a success. This is a team effort that requires cooperation and maximum effort from everyone involved. I'm proud that the operation went well, and that Rigshospitalet can offer this new option to a specific group of patients," said Peter Skov Olsen.

Neither Rigshospitalet nor the producer of Carmat is able to provide data or health information on individual patients.

Facts about the study: 

•Denmark is the third country in the world to implant  a Carmat heart into a patient. Previously, patients in the Czech Republic and Kazakhstan have received a Carmat heart.

• A total of 13 patients now have a Carmat heart.

• Over the next four to five months, the plan is to increase this to 20 patients with a Carmat heart.

• Rigshospitalet has been selected as a test centre due to the hospital's expertise in treating and conducting research into advanced heart failure.

Facts about the Carmat artificial heart:

• The most advanced and the first fully electric artificial heart that adapts to the user's physical activity. 

• Weighs 1,055 g and measures 12.3 cm x 10.2 cm x 14.5 cm.

• Maximum pumping power: 8.5 litres per minute.

• Produced by the French medical company Carmat, which is part of the aviation company Airbus Group.

• Around 70,000 people in Denmark suffer from heart failure. For patients for whom the condition is life-threatening, and for whom a transplant is not an option, Carmat can be a solution.

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