Man Gets Second Heart Implanted

Valentine's Day operation sees two hearts beating in tandem
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 21, 2011 12:13 PM CST

(Newser) – The Tin Man would be jealous: This Valentine’s Day, a 36-year-old man received a second heart—without giving up his first. Because Tyson Smith was too weak for a transplant, doctors simply installed a second heart in his chest and attached it to his own—a rare operation that was caught on film. “Together, the two hearts share the work and get the job done,” said a surgeon at UC San Diego.

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In what’s known as a heterotropic procedure, the two hearts are attached at their left atria so that blood flows between them, the doctor noted. The blood "is then pumped by the new left ventricle into the patient’s aorta, which brings new and increased flow to all parts of the body." In effect, the Daily Mail notes, the patient becomes Doctor Who. The operation is safe and has “an average survival of 10 years,” the surgeon said. (Read more heart transplants stories.)

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