Female patient receives artificial heart in world-first surgery

American Physicians make history after successfully transplanting an Aeson bioprosthetic artificial heart inside a Kentucky woman.

Physicians from the University of Louisville in Kentucky successfully implanted the bioprosthetic on September 14. 

Developed by the French company, CARMAT, the artificial heart mimics its natural counterpart with two ventricular chambers and four biological valves, powered by an external device. Made from ‘biocompatible materials’, it uses a combination of sensors and algorithms to maintain its pace and keep blood circulating through the body.

Aeson artificial heart
Image: UoL Heath

If this sounds like something straight out of a sci-fi film, you’re not wrong – but around 20 of the devices are already functioning inside other recipients.

What makes this most recent implant so significant is that the recipient is a woman.

The leading cause of death in American women is heart disease. However, because the disease is commonly seen as a ‘male’ disease, advancements in female-orientated treatment are often overlooked.

Mark Slaughter, M.D., one of the two lead cardiothoracic surgeons for the procedure, stated,

Size limitations can make it harder to implant artificial hearts in women, but the Aeson artificial heart is compact enough to fit inside the smaller chest cavities more frequently found in women, which gives hope to a wider variety of men and women waiting for a heart transplant and increases the chances for success.”

The success of this procedure brings hope to the 900 or so female patients waiting for a heart transplant in the US, not to mention countless others around the world.

While the artificial heart is not a long-term fix, it provides precious time to recipients who are in critical need.

Designed as a bridge towards a full heart transplant within six months or so, the device is an important addition to navigating the challenging but crucial terrain of organ donation.

For now, it is an incredible medical milestone that has been achieved, presenting a bright future for the world of organ transplants.