UPDATE 18.10.12: Sadly Jakub passed away from liver failure this week. A post mortem is underway to determine the reason for the failure.
An ex-firefighter from the Czech Republic has been revealed as the first man to live without a heart for six months.
Jakub Halmk was the second person to be fitted with a mechanical heart, but the first – Craig Lewis from Texas - passed away five weeks after surgery.
Halmk was suffering from an aggressive form of cancer. A tumour was found in his heart but he could not have a heart transplant because of the drugs he was taking for the cancer. The only option was to have a mechanical ‘heart’ put in.
“It was very difficult to decide what to do but an operation was my only chance,” he said.
“I was told that with the tumour I could expect to survive for no more than a year, so decided to go for it.”
Surgeons at the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague performed the eight hour operation in April. It involved inserting two 20cm pumps with propellers into Halmk’s chest. They rotate 10,000 times a minute to pump the blood around the body, mimicking the natural movement of the heart.
The dad-of-one is now doing well and is on the waiting list for a heart transplant.
“I don’t even realise I don’t have a heart anymore,” Halmk said.
“It’s amazing to think I am functioning like a completely healthy man when I don’t even have a heart.”