Doctors in Italy were able to save the precious life of a 16-month-old baby boy by implanting a small artificial heart to keep the infant alive until a suitable donor was found. Reuters said that the baby, whose identity was not revealed, was kept alive for 13 days before the transplant. The doctors at the Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome made the announcement to the public this week but said that the operation was carried out last month. According to the doctors, the baby was suffering from dilated myocardiopathy, a heart muscle disease that causes enlarged fibers in the heart.

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The disease gradually makes the heart weaker, stopping its ability to pump blood effectively. Doctors reportedly used a tiny titanium pump that weighs only 11 grams and can handle 1.5 liters of blood flow in a minute. The doctors said that the device was invented by the American Doctor Robert Jarvik. The tiny titanium pump, allegedly considered as the world’s smallest artificial heart, had only been previously tested on animals. The hospital reportedly asked special permission from Dr. Jarvik and the Italian Health Ministry before the operation. Surgeon Antonio Amodeo said that the device could be used more often in the future to help more patients.

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