An 11-year-old Illinois boy has become the youngest recipient of an artificial heart, which will help sustain his life until he gets a heart transplant match.
Fox 32 Chicago reported that Jaheim Whigham was born with hypoplastic heart syndrome, wherein the organ has only one functional chamber. Whigham received a heart transplant at age 7, but four years later, in October 2015, his body rejected the organ.
Having his heart pump with natural mechanical supports posed the risk for a possibly deadly infection, the news station reported, so doctors opted to give the boy a smaller, experimental model of the SynCardia Temporary Total Artificial Heart.
“This entire thing is implanted inside of him, except for these two small tubes, which exit the body and go to the external driver,” Dr. Carl Backer, of Lurie Children’s Hospital, told Fox 32.
For the next few days, Jaheim Whigham will use a rolling power supply for the artificial heart, and after that, he will use a portable power supply that he’ll tote inside a backpack.
Whigham’s father, Michael Whigham, lauded his son’s medical team.
“Just to know that we have a fighting team for us, it's amazing,” he told the news station.