Man Alive and Kicking, but Has No Heartbeat

MONTREAL ~ A Canadian is believed to be the only man alive without a pulse after his heart failed and a new silent pump was embedded in his chest to keep blood gushing through his veins, doctors said.

The Quebec man underwent surgery on November 23 after suffering severe heart failure due to a heart attack months earlier, Ian Popple, a spokesman for McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, said on Wednesday.

Due to other medical conditions, the 65-year-old patient was deemed an unsuitable candidate for a transplant, doctors said.

So a mechanical heart was implanted as a last resort, as part of ongoing North American clinical trials of the product.

However, an “interesting feature” of the novel device is that it provides a continuous flow of blood, so the patient has no pulse, said Popple.

Surgeon Renzo Cecere said his patient was “the only individual living in Canada without a pulse and without a measurable blood pressure.”

A spokesman for the mechanical heart maker Thoratec said he had not heard of a similar occurrence with some 400 patients who received the implants, about the size of a standard D flashlight battery, in Europe or the United States.

“Everyone who has received one of these has some level of heart muscle contractions,” he said.

Popple noted: “It’s kind of a weird concept because if anything happened to him, a car accident or something, and he was lying there on the ground, breathing, but with no pulse, it could upset people.”

“I think he was a bit unnerved himself about having no pulse, but he is very much alive,” he added.

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