US Teen Survives 4 Months Without a Heart

November 21, 2008

Miami (ChattahBox) — An American teenager was kept alive by doctors for 118 days without a heart. The doctors used an artificial custom-built blood pumping machine until the patient was ready to have a heart transplant.

According to the patient, D’Zhana Simmons of South Carolina, the thought of her living on a machine for so long was scary. She thought the machine could malfunction anytime and she felt like a fake person that really didn’t exist. She was speaking at a news conference at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center. Simmons, 14, suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the patient’s heart becomes weakened and enlarged and does not pump blood efficiently. Simmon’s parents learnt of her enlarged heart last year and traveled from their hometown, Clinton, SC, to Miami for a heart transplant. Her new heart did not function properly and might have ruptured so the doctors removed it two days later. They replace the heart with a pair of artificial pumping devices so she could have a second transplant.

Dr. Peter Wearden, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh who works with the kind of pumps used in this case, said what the Miami medical team managed to do “is a big deal.”

Earlier there had been a case when an adult was kept alive with the help of such a machine for 9 months in Germany. However, this is the first time that a child has survived in this manner for so long.


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