Stan Larkin and his older brother had been diagnosed when they were teenagers with familial cardiomyopathy, which is basically a condition that slowly causes heart failure.
By December 2014, Stan Larkin’s heart was removed and he was to live the next 17 months without a heart in his body, so how was that managed?
In the first place, it is necessary to point out the difficulty of getting an organ transplant due to the fact that there are not near enough organs available to accommodate anyone who suddenly needs a transplant.
In the US alone where this story originated, an average of 22 people die every day due to lack of available transplant organs.
This was what necessitated Stan Larkin’s stay without a heart in his body for over a year. He became the first patient in Michigang to be outfitted with the SynCardia Freedom Portable Driver, a 13.5-pound machine that uses compressed air to take over the heart’s job of pumping blood through the body.
The innovative machine was designed to be used in the case of total heart failure when devices designed to assist in partial failure are no longer viable and it is basically a heart in a backpack and needs to be carted around in the backpack.
Jonathan Haft, University of Michigan associate professor of cardiac surgery, and the surgeon who performed both procedures on Larkin said of Larkin and his older brother;
“They were both very, very ill when we first met them in our intensive care units. We wanted to get them heart transplants, but we didn’t think we had enough time. There’s just something about their unique anatomic situation where other technology wasn’t going to work.”
Larkin’s older brother also had to rely on a total artificial heart, but he received his after Larkin and was able to receive a heart transplant in 2015. Stan Larkin on his own end, finally received his heart transplant in May 2016. He spoke at a news conference stating;
“It was an emotional rollercoaster, I got the transplant two weeks ago and I feel like I could take a jog as we speak. I want to thank the donor who gave themselves for me. I’d like to meet their family one day. Hopefully they’d want to meet me.”
This new technology provides a whole other layer of hope for heart transplant patients and Stan Larkin, the man who lived for over a year without a heart in his body has proven that its an external total artificial heart that can sustain a patient for over a year.