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Arizona boy receives child-size heart pump

SHARE Arizona boy receives child-size heart pump

TUCSON, Ariz. — A 7-year-old Arizona boy received a heart transplant Monday after becoming the first patient in North America to receive a child-size artificial heart pump.

Carlos Ochoa of Nogales received the heart in a six-hour operation at University Medical Center, where he was listed in critical but stable condition. He had suffered from restrictive cardiomyopathy, a condition that caused his heart to become stiff, limiting its pumping ability.

Dr. Francisco Arabia, who performed the transplant, said the new heart was working well, and the surgery went without complications.

Carlos had been fitted with the German-made device called the Berlin Heart on May 24.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave Dr. Jack G. Copeland, chief of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at the University of Arizona's Sarver Heart Center, permission to use the heart pump on an emergency basis.

The device, which comes in several sizes and is the only one of its kind suitable for implantation in children, is used in Europe. But it did not undergo testing in this country as required by the FDA because of the costs its manufacturer would have incurred.

"We're convinced this is a good thing and feel very comfortable using the device," Copeland said last month.

He said its successful use in Carlos might encourage other research and testing of artificial hearts and pumps for American children.