After 555 days of living without a human heart, this Michigan man has finally replaced his portable artificial device for the real thing.
Stan Larkin, 25, was the first person in Michigan to be fitted for the SynCardia Freedom Portable Driver, an artificial heart designed to fit conveniently in his backpack.
He was diagnosed with familial cardiomyopathy when he was a teenager, and has been battling heart failure until December 2014, when his heart had to be removed. He was also unable to receive a transplant on time.
"We wanted to get heart transplants, but we didn't think we had enough time," said Dr. Jonathan Haft, an associate professor that worked with Larkin, in a press release.
Though existing devices that assist with partial heart failure wouldn't be suitable for Larkin, new technology suited his needs perfectly. Larkin was the lucky first candidate to try out the portable artificial heart that allowed him to spend Christmas at home as he waited for a transplant.
Haft explained that normally, heart transplant patients had to remain in the ICU, but with the new device, Larkin was allowed to leave and live his life.
"It was stressful," Larkin said in a video by UM Health System, "but after I got it, I felt so much better. I felt like before I had any heart problems, I felt like I can do what I want."
The University of Michigan Health System explained in a statement that two tubes were connected to the body that allowed the machine to delivered air into the ventricles and allow blood to be pumped through the body -- just as a human heart would.
His older brother, who also suffered from heart failure, also relied on the device, but was fitted after Larkin and received his transplant earlier.
Finally, after more than a year of living with the device while on the transplant list, Larkin replaced his artificial heart with a new one.
"I feel like I could take a jog as we speak," Larking joked in a press conference. "I want to thank the donor who gave themselves for me. I'd like to meet their family one day. Hopefully they'd want to meet me."