A 25-year-old Michigan man was able to live for 555 days without a heart in his chest courtesy of an artificial heart that he kept in a backpack.
When Stan Larkin and his brother Domonique were still teenagers, they were both diagnosed by doctors to have arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD), a rare heart condition that weakens the ability of the heart to pump blood.
The brothers were placed on a donor list so that they could receive a new heart. When their condition worsened before they could receive a heart transplant, they were given SynCardia Total Artificial Hearts to act as a temporary fix while they wait for a replacement heart.
What makes SynCardia different from other devices, such as implantable defibrillators, is that it can be used to address both sides of a heart failure instead of just one side of the organ.
Dr. Jonathan Haft, the surgeon from the University of Michigan who transplanted the artificial hearts to the Larkin brothers, said that Stan and Domonique were both very ill when they were taken to the university's intensive care units.
He said they wanted to provide them with heart transplants but were worried that they didn't have enough time. There was something different about the brothers' anatomic situation that prevented other technologies to work on them.
Domonique was able to undergo heart transplant a few weeks after receiving the artificial heart, but Stan still had to wait longer for an available heart.
To help him have a normal life, doctors replaced Stan's first artificial heart with another one called the Freedom Portable Driver, which he had to bring along with him at all times in a backpack. The device helped keep oxygenated blood circulating throughout his body.
After receiving the Freedom Portable Driver, Stan was allowed by the doctors to return home and be with his family as he waited for his replacement heart.
While the new device prevented Stan from doing certain actions, such as holding his daughters, it did allow him to thrive for more than a year despite not having a new heart.
Stan was finally able to receive a heart transplant last month and has now full recovered from the operation. He compared his experience of not having a heart for a long time to an "emotional rollercoaster."
Stan shared his story to help raise the public's awareness on the estimated 5.7 million people in America who are suffering from heart problems and are badly in need of heart donors.