This 11-year-old is the youngest to get this type of artificial heart


This 11-year-old is the youngest to get this type of artificial heart

Jaheim Whigham and nurse Catherine Theis.

An 11-year-old boy from Illinois has become the youngest person in the world to receive a particular type of artificial heart.

Jaheim Whigham received the 50cc SynCardia Total Artificial Heart at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago on Dec. 1, the hospital announced earlier this week.

The device, designed for women, small men and children, replaces failing heart ventricles and valves and restores blood flow in the body. Whigham also is the smallest to receive the artificial heart, a hospital representative said.

Whigham, however, isn't the youngest ever to receive an artificial heart. The company said a 9-year-old received a larger version of the SynCardia in 2013. SynCardia, said hospital spokeswoman Julie Pesch, is the only maker of artificial hearts.

Jaheim and his father Michael Whigham were at the hospital on Thursday. Jaheim said, "I feel good" but he wants to go home.

Michael Whigham said hospital staff has been exercising Jaheim and trying to bring him back to normal.

"I want to thank all of his nurses," Michael Whigham said. "The machine is totally amazing."

The SynCardia artificial heart is implanted inside the body and connects to an outside power supply. However, it's temporary. The hospital said he'll ideally be with the artificial heart for a few months before receiving a transplant. Pesch said the plan is for Jaheim to stay in the hospital until he receives a new heart.

Jaheim was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a condition in which the left side of the heart doesn't form properly, said the Centers for Disease Control. The syndrome affects normal blood flow through the heart.

Jaheim received his first heart transplant in 2012 at age 7. In October, a check-up found he was experiencing heart failure. Soon, other organs began to fail. Doctors said the artificial heart was needed to save the boy's life."

"We had no other options but to implant Jaheim with the artificial heart," said Dr. Carl Backer, who leads the facility's cardiovascular surgery division. "Jaheim's other organs have recovered nicely. He keeps getting stronger and has now been listed for a heart transplant."



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