Extending Peoples Lives, One Artificial Heart At A Time

A retired high-school teacher has become the first person in New England to receive an artificial heart. James Carelli, 66-years-old, was suffering from a rare condition that leads to total heart failure if left untreated. As with many others who have received an artificial heart, the substitute buys Carelli the vital extra time he needs while waiting for the real thing.
Cardiac senile amyloidosis is a condition in which the protein amyloid – found normally in the bloodstream – is deposited onto heart tissue. Unchecked, the deposits eventually cause the heart to become stiff, which leads to fluid buildup in the lungs and difficulty breathing, and fluid buildup in soft tissues as well that can cause swelling of the abdomen and legs. Carelli, a retired high school teacher and track and field coach from Holbrook, Massachusetts, was diagnosed with cardiac senile amyloidosis in 2011. Doctors decided that he needed a new heart, but in New England where donor hearts are in short supply the average wait time is nine months. Carelli didn’t have nine months.
That was when doctors and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston decided their only alternative was to give Carelli an artificial heart. And in February of this year, during a ten hour procedure, they removed his failing heart and replaced it with an artificial one.