First-Time Surgery: Artificial Heart, Stem Cells Used to Save Dying Man

Surgeons have for the first time used a combination of an artificial heart and stem cells to save the life of a dying man.

Ioannis Manolopoulos was fitted with the mechanical pump because his heart was too weak to push blood around his body.

Surgeons then injected his failing heart muscle with six million of his own stem cells in the hope that they would repair the damage.

Speaking exclusively to Sky News, he said he owed the British and Greek surgeons his life.

"If things go well, I must go to church and pray because I feel very lucky to get this device and have the chance of a normal life," he said.

The team was led by British surgeon and professor Stephen Westaby. He has pioneered the use of mechanical pumps in patients suffering from heart failure.

But the United Kingdom's National Health Services public health-care system will not pay for the treatment. Instead he's relying on charity funding — or travels abroad to implant pumps in countries where governments are prepared to fund the nearly $100,000 devices.

"I am very frustrated that all the work that I have done back home in the U.K. has to be translated into patient care in other countries," Manolopoulos added.

Click here to read more and see a picture of Manolopoulos at Sky News.