Arpeh Huamada, a 16 1⁄2-year-old soccer player from Beer Sheba, underwent an emergency transplant of an artificial heart at SCMCI to save his life.

During one of his soccer training sessions, Arpeh felt ill. After being examined by a doctor, he was found to be suffering from myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle). Due to the seriousness of his condition, he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Soroka Hospital with severe arrythmia. When doctors were unable to stabilize him, he was transferred to Schneider Children’s to await a donor heart transplant.

However, his condition continued to deteriorate and became critical when the left chamber of his heart stopped functioning while the right chamber was on the verge. The race against time began, but a human heart was not found for transplantation. So doctors at Schneider Children’s decided to implant a pump into the left chamber of the heart (an artificial heart) to save his life.

A 6-hour operation ensued where the artificial heart type Lvad was implanted into Arpeh’s chest. The pump was connected to the left chamber and will pump the blood into the body replacing the dysfunctional heart. Exteriorally, the pump is connected to a small battery bag attached to his back. The surgery was performed by Dr. Gabi Amir, Head of the Newborn Cardiac Surgery Unit at Schneider, Dr. Victor Rovachevsky, Deputy Director of the Cardiac Surgery Department at Beilinson Hospital, and Prof. Dan Arvut, Director of the Cardiac Surgery Department at Beilinson. Following the operation, Arpeh was transferred to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit headed by Prof. Ovdi Dagan.

Dr. Amir noted that “the youngster arrived at Schneider in a state of severe heart failure. When his condition deteriorated, we needed to find a solution as soon as possible until a human heart became available. It is very exciting to see him today as he recovered and his condition is good following the unique surgery that saved his life.”

Implanting an artificial heart is a life-saving procedure and performed in patients with severe heart failure who cannot wait for a heart transplant or are unsuited to one due to a variety of reasons (past illnesses, age, etc). The artificial heart is implanted into the patient’s chest without removing the impaired heart, and replaces its function. The artificial heart can serve as a bridge to save the lives of patients until a heart transplant or permanent solution is found. Following transplant, the recipient can return to full activity and lead a normal life except for certain activities such as water-involved (swimming pool, shower, ocean) due to the fear of damaging the pump’s batteries.

The incredible technological advances that have occurred in recent years have spearheaded a new generation of artificial hearts. The high rates of success indicate a new era for patients with severe heart failure. Over the past three years, 10 artificial hearts have been implanted at Schneider Children’s.