The "bioprosthetic" artificial heart from Carmat has been implanted in a human being. The procedure was performed on December 18th at France's Georges Pompidou European Hospital, and the patient is said to be doing well. Carmat says he is currently awake in the intensive care unit and is speaking with family members. According to the company, the operation went "smoothly" and the heart is providing blood flow as expected. It marks the first successful human implant for Carmat, with other trials slated for the future.
Carmat's innovative artificial heart — which includes sections of cow tissue — initially won approval in Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Poland, and Belgium earlier this year. The company's home country of France eventually came on board in September, and Health Minister Marisol Touraine is wasting no time in touting Carmat's success. "This news brings great pride to France," she told BFM TV. "It shows we are pioneers in healthcare, that we can invent, that we can carry an innovation that will also bring great hope to plenty of people." Carmat's CEO Marcelo Conviti took a more cautious tone. "We are delighted with this first implant, although it is premature to draw conclusions given that a single implant has been performed and that we are in the early postoperative phase," he said in a statement.
Carmat's artificial heart, which is three times heavier than a human's, can beat for up to five years and is designed for patients suffering from end-stage heart failure. Carmat has other patients lined up for early human trials; according to Reuters, the procedures will be deemed successful for all patients that survive with the implant for over a month. The heart could help up to 100,000 patients across the US and Europe, Carmat says. Assuming other trials go well, price will continue to be the main barrier of entry; Carmat's device is priced at around $195,000.