A 25-year-old father of three from Michigan had a very strange ordeal that he went through after he had major heart trouble. It started after he collapsed while playing basketball.
Stan Larkin had to be rushed to the hospital where doctors discovered the genetic heart condition familial cardiomyopathy. Stan’s brother Dominique soon found he had it too.
Dominique stayed in the hospital and was out six weeks later after receiving a heart transplant. Stan, however, was not able to find a suitable organ match.
He was hooked up to a machine that functioned as his heart. But a new portable technology was invented that could fit in a backpack.
Stan carried the machine around on his back while tubes connected it into his heart. He was living outside the hospital without a human heart a full 555 days.
When Larkin found out the news, he was surprised that he would be able to go home from the hospital. CNN quoted Larkin about when he first heard the news.
“I was shocked when the doctors started telling me that I could live without a heart in my body and that a machine was going to be my heart. Just think about it — a machine.”
This isn’t the first case of someone living with an artificial heart. Often, patients seeking transplants have no other choice than to let a machine pump blood through their body, but it’s the first time someone from Michigan has been able to leave the hospital and live a relatively normal life with one.
Unbelievably, Larkin did many things he did before finding out he had the condition. He spent time with his children, hung out with his friends, and even played basketball.
Larkin said that having an artificial heart device with him wherever he went wasn’t too strange after all.
“It’s just in a bag with tubes coming out of you, but other than that, it feels like a real heart. …It felt just like a backpack with books in it, like if you were going to school.”
The actual artificial heart resided in his chest. What was carried in the bag is the device that powers the artificial heart.
It is a 13-pound machine known as the Freedom Driver. The device connected with Stan’s artificial heart from tubes going into his chest from underneath his rib cage.
The Freedom Driver delivered power to the heart, as well as pumping compressed air into it so that blood could circulate.
Dr. Jonathan Haft, a cardiac surgeon from the nearby University of Michigan, helped both of the Larkin brothers overcome their condition. He applauded Stan for how he used the equipment.
“Stan was very active and did an immaculate job taking care of himself and taking care of the equipment used to keep him alive.”
The first of this type of self-contained artificial heart technology was implanted in 2001. In 2014, Stan Larkin was able to live outside of the hospital with one.
Stan finally received his long-awaited heart transplant in May. He is still recovering from the procedure, and adjusting to life with something closer to the heart he used to have.
Devices like the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart that Stan used are considered temporary devices, but technology like this can make severe heart conditions less and less life threatening, making the wait for an organ match more bearable. And technology like this is a much better alternative than what the government of China is doing, cutting out healthy, living peoples organs in a warped, gruesome kind of organ transplant trade.
Pioneering technology like this can keep people from going overseas or getting organs from the black market. Maybe technology like this could one day be more than just a temporary fix.