First artificial heart implant surgery saves a life in Kazakhstan

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12:13 14.11.2011
text: Kazinform
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The first artificial heart implant surgery, performed by the National Cardiac Surgery Centre on November 9, marked a new stage in the development of Kazakhstan's cardio surgery. This unique operation for Kazakhstan was carried out by Yuri Pya, the Chairman of the Centre, and Jan Pirk, the Head of the Cardiovascular Surgery Department in the Prague Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine.

The first patient to receive a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) or a so-called artificial heart was a 42-year-old Marat Shymbalov, who had suffered from heart failure. The operation that has enabled Marat's heart to pump two to three times more blood than before, or the normal four to five litres of blood per minute, costing 46 million tenge, was sponsored by the Government. The only other country performing such high-tech operations in the post-Soviet space is Belarus.

"This is one of the alternatives to the donor heart transplant operations. The transplantation of the left ventricular assist device can not only save the patient's life, but also return him his ability to work," Yuri Pya commented the operation. In the absence of complications, Marat is soon expected to return to a normal life, continue to work and socialize freely, according to the doctors. The only thing that will distinguish Marat from other people is the absence of pulse.

Unlike the real heart, the LVAD pumps blood continuously without a pulsating rhythm. As a consequence, patients such as Marat Shymbalov always have to wear special warning bracelets, so in case of a loss of consciousness, people assisting them do not consider them dead.

Two days before the operation, Marat's heart performed at only 20 percent of its capacity, pumping two litres of blood per minute. His cardiomyopathy - heart muscle disease - was a result of a complication following influenza. Without the operation, Marat could not have lived for more than a few months. Another patient who had been implanted this assist device is former Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney.

Scientists have been working on the LVAD technology for several decades, but it was only in 2005 that a device small enough to fit medium size chest was developed. Kazakhstan has become the first to perform an artificial heart implant surgery in Central Asia.

The National Cardiac Surgery Centre is one of the six clinics under the National Medical Holding, which is a part of the Nazarbayev University. Development of regenerative medicine and bioengineering represents a priority area of the University. Implementation of the LVAD technology and further miniaturization and perfecting of this technology are main tasks set before the University team of doctors and scientists.

See http://portal.mfa.kz/