It’s been hailed as a breakthrough in modern medicine. Surgeons in France have implanted a patient with a new heart — designed to be a long-term artificial replacement for the human organ.
The prosthetic heart was designed by French company Carmat, using tissue from biological sources like cows in an effort to reduce the likelihood of rejection by the host.
Previous attempts at transplanting hearts have run into difficulties. But according to Euronews, this operation — on a 75-year-old Frenchman with terminal heart disease — went smoothly.
And while it’s three times heavier than the organ it replaces, Carmat designed its heart to be a long-term implant. Patients can use it for five years; go home, go to work and carry on more or less normally in the meantime.
The Daily Mail explains the implant closely mimics the structure and function of the human heart — complete with valves and contractions like the beating of the real thing.
But it comes at a steep price. The Telegraph reports the heart will cost upward of €140,000 when it goes on sale in Europe.
And it’s not without risks. According to the National Institute of Health, artificial hearts come with increased risk of blood clots, external infection and plain old equipment failure.
About 100,000 people in the U.S. and the United Kingdom are currently in need of heart transplants.