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The BBC's Fergus Walsh
"It could help tens of thousands of patients each year"
 real 56k

Monday, 11 September, 2000, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Heart pump patient 'doing well'
Peter Houghton
Peter Houghton underwent the operation in June
The Englishman who received the world's first permanent artificial heart pump says he has been given a new lease of life.

Peter Houghton, 61, was given just weeks to live before he underwent pioneering surgery to have a thumb-sized pump implanted into his heart.

The operation, which took place at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford in June and lasted for 14 hours, has been hailed as a success by the patient and his doctors.

Mr Houghton, from Edgbaston in Birmingham, said he was grateful to the doctors who had carried out the treatment.

"I feel gratitude towards them. I have a new lease of life and have become very affectionate towards them."

Mr Houghton had been diagnosed with heart failure. His heart was only working at 10% of its capacity and he was preparing himself for death.

I feel 100% better than I did

Peter Houghton, Birmingham

But the operation has given him a new lease of life and, according to the patient, he feels 100% well.

"Living with heart failure is just a very slow path to death where you have to manage on drugs and then they don't work anymore.

"You gradually realise that death is near. You feel exhausted and stressed and you have to prepare for death. It's as simple as that."

He added: "I went into this with my eyes open and I thought I had a 50% chance of dying during the operation.

"I feel 100% better than I did. Am I well compared to how I was? Yes, very well."

The operation has allowed Mr Houghton to look forward to the future and a life he thought was about to end.

"It's a wonderful thing to go walking again, which I have always loved and being able to think what I should do with the rest of my life," he said.

The pump, which is called the Jarvik 2000, was implanted into the left ventricle of Mr Houghton's heart and pumps blood around the body.

A power cable which runs through the body links the pump to a rechargeable battery, on Mr Houghton's waist.

It is the first operation of its kind and doctors are hopeful it could prove to be an alternative to heart transplants.

Stephen Westaby, who led the team of surgeons who carried out the operation, said he was delighted with the success of the treatment.

"Peter is the first patient in a scientific clinical trial to receive this permanent heart.

"We had to choose a patient not suitable for cardiac transplant surgery.

"We are delighted the operation went smoothly. It took a very large amount of detailed post-operative care to get Peter well afterwards."

However, the experts warned that it would take years before the pioneering operative became standard across the NHS.

This is because of the costs and complexity involved in the treatment.

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See also:

08 Sep 00 | Health
Pump hope for heart patients
25 Sep 98 | Background Briefings
The art of transplantation
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