Like all technology, medical implants can be made smaller as the engineering behind them gets more advanced. That's how a 16-month-old Italian baby was able to become the recipient of the world's smallest artificial heart -- and have its life saved in the process.
Back in March, Italian doctors were faced with a situation in which a baby -- who hasn't been identified -- would not be able to survive until the point at which a real heart would be available for transplant. So, the medics made the bold decision to try to implant the world's smallest (and presumably most adorable) artificial heart to tide the child over. Antonio Amodeo, from the Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome, explained to AFP:
"The device, a titanium pump weighing only 11 grams and that can endure a flow of up to 1.5 litres per minute, was used in an emergency case of a 16-month-old infant suffering from dilated myocardiopathy with a serious infection of the ventricular assistance device that had been implanted previously."
Fortunately, the operation was a success. Then, just 13 days later, a real donor heart became available, so the artificial one was replaced. More than a month afterwards, the baby is in fine form. Now that is what technology is all about. [AFP]