Man Walks Around Without a Heart for 17 Months
A 14-pound backpack let Stan Larkin thrive while awaiting his transplant
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2016 5:19 PM CDT

(Newser) – Twenty-two people die every day because there aren't enough organs available for transplants, CNET reports. Stan Larkin wasn't one of them. Instead, the 25-year-old Michigan father of three spent 555 days without a heart, according to Michigan Live. And it didn't even keep him off the basketball court. Larkin was diagnosed with familial cardiomyopathy after collapsing while playing basketball when he was 16. In December 2014, doctors removed his failing heart. There were hundreds of people ahead of Larkin on the donor list, so that same month he became the first Michigan resident to be outfitted with the SynCardia Freedom Portable Driver—a 14-pound backpack that uses compressed air to move blood through the body.

Before Larkin, no one really knew what the Freedom Portable Driver was capable of, Science Alert reports. He showed them. “He really thrived on the device,” Larkin's doctor says in a press release. “This wasn’t made for pick-up basketball. Stan pushed the envelope with this technology.” In fact, Larkin kept so active he had to replace the device 10 or so times. One thing he couldn't do, however, was give piggyback rides to his daughters. Larkin got his new human heart in May, and he says his daughters couldn't wait. “They're going to be on the front, the back, my neck," he tells Michigan Live. "They're going to be jumping all over me." (A dad filmed the moment his teen son realized he survived a heart transplant.)