A 5-month-old baby from Turin was saved thanks to a heart transplant, despite being incompatible, coming from Germany, after the use, for the first time in the world in a pediatric patient, of a revolutionary machine for theExtra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), the EcmoLife.
Heart transplant not compatible on 5-month-old baby
The little boy, born with a serious congenital heart disease, a univentricular heart, was also the carrier of a genetic anomaly that did not allow the single ventricle to function correctly. The pediatric cardiac surgery and congenital heart disease team (directed by Dr Carlo Pace Napoleon) of the Regina Margherita hospital of the Città della Salute in Turin attempted to stabilize the situation with two interventions, but in the end it worsened anyway.
edited by the Turin editorial team
How the new ECMO machine works
At this point, a new ECMO machine, the EcmoLife, was used, which allowed the little one to survive until the arrival of a suitable heart. This equipment, produced by the Eurosets company of Medolla, in the province of Modena, is capable of temporarily replacing the functions of the heart and lung. It is revolutionary as it is equipped with a highly advanced monitoring system that allows continuous verification of its effectiveness. of the treatment. Furthermore, the machine is characterized by a centrifugal pump that reproduces the mechanical function of the heart, whose impeller rotates at a speed that can reach 4500 revolutions per minute suspended in the blood flow thanks to a magnetic field. This guarantees the absence of direct contact between the moving parts in order to avoid the generation of heat which would damage the blood cells.
A cutting-edge device, designed by a team of Italian engineers, which was sent as a preview to the Regina Margherita Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Unit to perform the first implant of this technological innovation in a pediatric patient.
After 8 days of extra-corporeal assistance which, thanks to EcmoLife, allowed excellent haemodynamic stabilisation, the little patient underwent a heart transplant with an organ from Germany, which was accepted, given the emergency, despite being a incompatible blood group.
The operation, which lasted about 8 hours, was technically successful. The child is still hospitalized in the cardiac surgical intensive care unit, pertaining to pediatric intensive care, directed by the doctor Simona Quaglia. During the year, 7 heart transplants have already been performed at the Regina Margherita hospital, a constantly increasing figure which places the Center among the first in Italy.