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Listen to Peter Houghton answer your questions
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Monday, 11 September, 2000, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
The man with the metal heart answers your questions

A 62-year-old Englishman has become the first patient in the world to have an artificial heart pump permanently implanted.

Peter Houghton, from Birmingham, would have died without the revolutionary operation, performed in June at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford.

What is it like to have an artificial heart - and what are Peter Houghton's hopes for the future?

We put a selection of your e-mails to Peter.

Charles Lucy: What happens to the "old" heart?

Peter Houghton: Well, it's still there. The implant is in the left ventricle of the heart and so it's still essential to the operation. The old heart is simply being supported by the new pump.

Fen Tyler, UK: Were you offered this as an alternative to transplantation, or were you ineligible/ unsuitable for transplantation ?

Peter Houghton: Well, they offered me the chance to see if I was eligible for transplantation in Birmingham. I never actually had any tests then I was offered entry to this clinical trial. During my preparation for the trial, they discovered that as I only had one kidney, I would not have been eligible for transplantation.

Oliver Thomas, London: I hope the outcome of your operation goes well. Was this an NHS operation or was it done privately?

Peter Houghton: It was done privately at the John Radcliffe Hospital with NHS support. It was basically a clinical trial and was funded by the Artificial Heart Fund and the National Heart Research Fund. The cost was about 100,000.

Henry Williams, England: What does it feel like when you place your palm against your chest? Can you still feel it actually beating under your ribs?

Peter Houghton: You can't feel anything and it caused problems when the hospital staff tried to get a blood pressure reading. I get a beat now and again if I turn the pump off.

Lobsang Tenzing, Tibet: Tell me, what did you feel the first morning after your successful surgery? Did you ever feel that your life would ever be the same again?

Peter Houghton: My life won't be the same again but at least I'll have a life now. After the operation, I felt that the world was a bit sedated but I was very happy when they told me I wasn't dead.

Z, USA: What is it like having the wires leading out of your head? Do you find this causes any difficulties for you?

Peter Houghton: It doesn't cause any difficulties but it feels a bit strange. I was in a supermarket and a woman asked me what that thing was in my head was. When I told her, she insisted on bringing her children to see. It's something that you just get used to.

A. Boakai Dukuly, USA: How long did your physicians say your heart will endure?

Peter Houghton: No-one knows, technically it could go on forever.

Ryan, Australia: Do you feel any weird sort of empty feeling and pains with this new heart?

Peter Houghton: I feel no pains at all.

Cle Cox, USA: How do you sleep? Very lightly I would guess.

Peter Houghton: At night, I have a special night battery which lasts for 24 hours.

M. S. H. Mirza, Pakistan: Brave man, how do feel now?

Peter Houghton: I feel grateful that I've got a new lease of life and I hope it lasts for a long time.

Louisa-Jane Merritt, UK: I've had a couple of heart ops myself, but nothing in comparison to you. Just to say thinking of you.

Peter Houghton: Thank you very much.

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08 Sep 00 | Health
Pump hope for heart patients
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