French surgeons are to implant an artificial heart into a second patient. Photo: AFP
Under a shroud of secrecy the second French patient has received an artificial heart transplant from doctors working to perfect the pioneering procedure, just months after the world's first recipient died.
Roughly eight months after implanting an artificial heart in a patient who later died, French doctors have done it again but without the fanfare and transparency of the first.
The heart was implanted three weeks ago in a hospital in the eastern France city of Nantes, but there were no updates on how the patient was doing.
That's because no details have been released officially by Carmat, the biotech maker of the heart, which has even refused to confirm the heart was implanted.
The radio silence is likely connected to the high economic stakes surrounding the success or failure of the implant, French paper Libération reported
. Perfecting the heart could lead to Carmat owning the market for the device.
The last recipient died in March, 75 days after undergoing the world's first implant of an artificial heart, but little has been revealed about the cause of the 76-year-old man's death.
Though artificial hearts have already been in use for many years as a temporary fix for patients with chronic heart problems, the Carmat device aims to provide a longer-term solution to bridge the wait for a donor heart and enable hospitalized patients to return home and maybe even resume work.
The artificial heart, a self-contained unit implanted in the patient's chest, uses soft "biomaterials" and an array of sensors to mimic the contractions of the heart.
The patient received his artificial heart on December 18th, in a world first performed after the French government gave its green light to the operation in September.
The surgeons who carried out the ground-breaking operation and subsequently monitored the patient's progress were keen to "stress the significance of the initial findings drawn" from the experiment, a hospital statement said.
Nearly 100,000 people in Europe and the United States are in need of a heart transplant, according to Carmat.