Former fire-fighter first man to live without a pulse for SIX MONTHS thanks to revolutionary artificial heart
Father-of-one is only man in the world to have two artificial pumps working side by side instead of a heartHe had the transplant after he was diagnosed with a tumour growing inside his heart
The continuous-flow devices mean Mr Halik has no pulseMr Halik is still in hospital but can get around in a wheelchair
He hopes to receive a donor heart within the next few months

|

UPDATED:

12:58 GMT, 2 October 2012

Jakub Halik

Jakub Halik must carry a battery that supplies the pumps with him everywhere he goes

A 37-year-old Czech fireman says he is able to live 'like a healthy man', after having his heart removed and replaced by mechanical pumps six month ago.

Jakub Halik no longer has a pulse after becoming only the second man to undergo the procedure – the first died a month after surgery in Texas last year.

The father-of-one still lives in the hospital and
is confined to his wheelchair for much of the day but says he is lucky
to be alive at all. He hopes to receive a donor heart and eventually return to the force.

Mr Halik had to have the
extraordinary surgery after he was diagnosed with an aggressive tumour
growing inside his heart. He couldn't undergo a standard transplant because the drugs he would require afterwards cannot be taken by cancer patients.

So,
on April 3 this year his heart was removed in an eight-hour operation
led by Czech cardiologist Jan Pirk. In its stead they placed two
modified Heartmate 2 pumps, manufactured by US company Thoratec Corp.

Mr Halik said: 'It
was hard for me but I didn't have any other chance at all. It was
acknowledged that with the tumour I can survive for about one year and I
decided to fight and do it this way,' he said.

Professor
Pirk's team used two pumps, which look like an eight-inch piece of
plumbing to the untrained eye. Inside, is a propeller that spins at
10,000 rotations per minute replicating the pumping action of the heart.

Thoratec
makes the pumps for people with damaged or diseased hearts as they
await a suitable heart for transplant. The pumps are powered by
batteries worn externally that connect to the device via a controller
and flexible cable beneath the skin.

Jakub Halik's siutaion however was unique. Reuters reported that with no heart at all, he required two pumps.

Each pump is designed to perform the separate tasks of the left and right sides of the heart. One of the devices pumps blood to the lungs for oxygenation while the other sends the oxygenated blood back into the ciculatory system.

The continuous-flow pump should last
longer than other artificial hearts and cause fewer problems as each
side had just one moving part.

The one thing they cannot replicate however, is the pulse.

'I
don't even realize it, because the functions of the body are the same,
only my heart is not beating and I have no pulse anymore,' Mr Halik
said.

'This is the only difference but otherwise I am functioning like a healthy man at present.'

Mr Halik sits in front of a graphic explaining how the two heart pumps keep him alive

Mr Halik sits in front of a graphic explaining how the two heart pumps keep him alive

This X-ray shows the dual-heart pump of Craig Lewis, who was the first man to receive dual pumps. Mr Halik has head a very similar device implanted

This X-ray shows the dual-heart pump of Craig Lewis, who was the first man to receive dual pumps. Mr Halik has had a very similar device implanted

The first time the procedure was
attempted, it extended the life of Craig Lewis, 55, for more than one
month before the disease that made the procedure necessary, travelled to
his kidneys and liver and killed him.

Jakub
Halik, a husband and father of one, is hoping that his pumps will keep
him alive until a suitable donor heart becomes available.

'It
was hard for me on both sides – psychically and more physically – this
just from the beginning. Later more psychically because I was
undertaking the search for more tumor cells (metastasis). At present I
feel very good physically and psychically as well.'

Mr Halik would one day like to return to fire-fighting

Mr Halik would one day like to return to fire-fighting

Mr Halik must carry a battery that supplies the pumps with him everywhere he goes. But he isn't bed-bound.

He said: 'My usual day goes like breakfast, hygiene, than lunch and after that I have usually visit, because my family visits me every day. Than I am doing rehabilitation like walking – sometimes I go to walk outside, which is very pleasant.'

'I am looking forward to going home, to meet my whole family, my dog, to be with them again. Then in summer I would like to make holidays at the sea.'

Dr Pirk says he is delighted with his patient's progress.

He said: 'Mr Halik has a very strong personality and I am satisfied with the result. We didn't know how it will go on and from the very beginning it was not easy, his health status was very serious and only thanks to the systematic hard work of the whole team of doctors and nurses.

'Mr Halik is now in this good condition. He is doing his best, he is training hard because after two months of laying on bed the muscles are getting weak and he has to make them stronger now.'

Jakub Halik is one of 24 patients in the Czech Republic who are waiting for a new heart. At the Institute for Clinic and Experimental Medicine (IKEM) the average waiting time is eight months.