12-year-old Canadian receives fully artificial heart

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A 12-year-old Canadian receives a fully artificial heart

Mariam Tannous underwent physical therapy after receiving a fully artificial heart. The surgery took place at SickKids Children's Hospital in Toronto.

Toronto teenager Mariam Tannous has become the youngest Canadian to have a robotic heart, following transplant and multiple heart surgeries.

The 12-year-old was born with two birth defects, one of which, related to Ebstein's disease, caused a heart valve anomaly and cardiomyopathy that affected his heart muscle.

She underwent her first open-heart surgery when she was three years old and a heart transplant when she was just seven years old.

Her health continued to deteriorate thereafter until she had a cardiac arrest in June 2021 at the age of 11.

While awaiting another transplant, her doctors at the SickKids Children's Hospital in Toronto fitted him with an artificial heart as part of a 14-hour surgery.

“It's miraculous. She is so strong. She loves life and wants to be alive.

— Antouan Adwar, mother of the teenager

Only about 50 other patients in Canada had received an artificial heart before, and never someone as young as Mariam, the device being designed for adults.

Mariam's surgeon at SickKids, Dr. Osami Honjo, had to leave her heart chamber open for five days while the teenager's body got used to the device and her blood pressure stabilized.

We really wanted to close the cavity, because it's a device installed in the chest and we can't afford to have an infection. In his case, however, it was too big to close the cavity immediately, he explains. In the meantime, his doctors put a temporary bandage on him.

The artificial heart has mechanical pumps connected to tubes attached to a console that operates 24/7 outside the body.

After his surgery , Mariam was sedated and on a respirator for 16 days. Blood and fluids then accumulated around the artificial heart, requiring another operation.

It was very, very difficult, says Dr. Honjo, but his condition ended up stabilize. I don't know how.

Two months later, a new transplant could be done, another compatible heart being available.

Mariam continues to take immunosuppressive medications, but she can now do normal activities. Her mother says she swims four times a week and enjoys playing soccer and basketball with her big brother, Jack.

We are so proud of Mariam. She showed everyone how strong she was, says her mother.

With information from La Presse canadienne

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