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Biotech Science

Girl's Heart Regenerates With Artificial Assist 184

Socguy writes with news about a 15-year-old girl who has become the first Canadian to have an artificial heart removed after her own heart healed itself. "Doctors at the Stollery Children's hospital implanted the Berlin Heart, a portable mechanical device that keeps blood pumping in an ailing heart, so she could survive until a transplant became available. But over the next few months, Melissa's overall condition improved dramatically, and her heart muscle regained much of its strength. After 146 days on the Berlin Heart, Melissa underwent surgery to have the device removed."
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Girl's Heart Regenerates With Artificial Assist

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  • by Nefarious Wheel ( 628136 ) * on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @02:03AM (#20394913) Journal
    Did the invasive surgery trigger a healing response, or did she just need a boost until natural processes finished the job?
  • by Racemaniac ( 1099281 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @02:45AM (#20395155)
    don't remember where, but i recently read that it's well known that the human heart is capable of some serious self healing, so i'm not that surprised by this.
    did it heal beyond what they thought was possible/normal? or is it only under certain conditions that weren't met this time?
  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @03:08AM (#20395273) Homepage
    All I wonder is; now that her own heart is doing all the work again, will it be able to cope or is it going to relapse and start failing again in time?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @06:01AM (#20395965)
    Anonymous Coward, Cowardly Lion..striking resemblance. Regardless, you might ask the Wizard for some courage, so that you can put your thoughts with an user-id.

    In the books, the origins of the character are rather gruesome. Originally an ordinary man by the name of Nick Chopper, the Tin Woodman used to make his living chopping down trees in the forests of Oz. The Wicked Witch of the East enchanted his axe to prevent him from marrying the girl that he loved. The enchanted axe chopped off his limbs, one by one. Each time he lost a limb, Nick Chopper replaced it with a prosthetic limb made of tin. Finally, nothing was left of him but tin. However, the tinsmith who helped him neglected to give him a heart. Once Nick Chopper was made entirely of tin, he was no longer able to love the girl he had fallen for.
    I was just kidding about're not the Lion. I've seen Anonymous Coward since I first came here. Are you new to /.?

    In his first appearance, the Scarecrow reveals that he lacks a brain and desires above all else to have one. --Wikipedia
    Coincidence? Of course I couldn't forget who you are..You, Scarecrow [], I shall miss most of all.
  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @07:32AM (#20396353) Homepage
    From what I can Google, the heart starts beating about 3-4 weeks after conception. So we should count most of the pregnancy as time that her heart was beating.
  • by Spokehedz ( 599285 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @07:50AM (#20396445)
    There was a study where they replaced someone's heart with a pump--not one that simulated a heartbeat, but just a constant flow. And the paitent lived for years afterwards... with no pulse.

    However, the mental issues with 'not having a pulse' were almost insurmountable. You are alive, yet you have no pulse. Also, you are used to a constant movement inside your chest--that was also hard to get adjusted too, if they did at all.

    However, just as in this story the patient's heart just re-started itself. Happy ending after all.
  • by Lemming Mark ( 849014 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @08:47AM (#20396895) Homepage
    It's awful that you had to go through that experience. I can't even imagine how you must have felt, but you have my deepest sympathies. Please take no notice of the anonymous replies to your comment - they're really not even worth reading. Some idiots actually think they're being clever by displaying their ignorance.

    I'm no doctor, but I guess this technology would not be suitable for use in all cases, and that some patients still require more conventional treatment by other means - but hopefully that will keep advancing too. It's amazing to see progress like this being made in medicine and I too hope that it can help many more people.

    I extend my sincere condolences for your loss and my best wishes for you.

    Mark Williamson
  • Re:hmm (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:28AM (#20397361)
    That's what the corporations want you to believe so that you keep feeding them your insurance dollars.
  • Re:Sometimes... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @10:13AM (#20397997)
    What about 50 years? 70? The girl's 15. I'd expect her life expectancy to be around 85 if she had no need of a transplant. If she makes it to the 10 year mark, she'll be 25, and likely at her prime. What's the mortality rate for 20 years? I don't imagine it to be very high, even for children.

    Granted, given her situation, she might have been dead in a year without a transplant, and 10 or 15 years is better than one. But transplants shouldn't be the final answer. Transplants should be more like asprin: a stopgap measure to continue functioning normally until the body finishes healing itself. Unfortunately, transplants are pretty final these days, and no healing can occur afterwards...
  • by hf256 ( 627209 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @10:32AM (#20398279)
    It's interesting how much we expect medical caregivers to be aware of and which they are actually not. While you have my deepest sympathies for your loss, I couldn't help but recall 2 things that I ran across:

    - A study that showed that doctors tended to dismiss patient complaints about drug side effects
    - An article by a WSJ journalist covering medical issues where the first oncologist dismissed any suggestions from her.

    I guess in some cases it comes to down to the skill level of your medical staff and while that is a horrible way to put it I'm beginning to wonder if it might not be true.
  • by Aranwe Haldaloke ( 789555 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:51PM (#20400483)
    March 20th, 2005, and my girlfriend also died because her heart suddenly decided not to work anymore. She was 25.

    Coincidentally enough, her name was also Rachel.

    The news in the article are truly awesome. There may not be enough hearts for everyone, but at least with this machine they'll all get a better shot at pulling through, instead of just staying there waiting helplessly.

Air is water with holes in it.