Who knew you could live your life to the fullest extent without a beating heart inside your body? Well, this was the case for 25-year-old Stan Larkin who managed to live almost two years without a heart.
The US man had to have his heart removed from his body in November of 2014 due to a condition called cardiomyopathy, which he also shares with his sibling, Dominique. The cardiovascular illness is a type of heart failure that can arise at any given moment—which has been linked to sudden deaths amongst athletes.
How did he survive for so long?
In order to be able to keep living a relatively normal life, Larkin was given a 13 pound artificial heart that was strapped to his back, given to him by doctors at the University of Michigan.
This temporary heart-replacing machine is only given in the most particular of circumstances: when both sides of the heart fail to pump blood. Usually, heart devices make up for a deficiency in only one part of the heart but for Larkin, his condition was so severe that he needed a never-before tested mechanical aid to keep him going.
A first for the life-saving device
At the time, the young basketball player made history by becoming the first patient in Michigan to test the life-saving device which he had plugged into him for a total of 555 days before receiving the transplant. In an interview, he said:
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.
Jonathan Haft, an associate professor of cardiac surgery who performed the surgery, explained:
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.