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The Original Metal Man: UK Man With First Artifical Heart Dies At 68

By Michelle Duffy     Dec 3, 2007 in Health
He was the first successful artificial heart operation to take place in the world in 2000, yet sadly today, the man with the metal heart has died at the age of 68. The British man had raised vital funds for charity since his life giving operation
Peter Houghton, from Edgbaston, Birmingham, had enjoyed seven years of his life which he may never have had if it wasn't for his life saving operation in June 2000. He was the very first man to be fitted with a permanent artificial heart. (pictured below.)
He was operated on at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, England where he underwent 14 hours of surgery.
Up until the massive operation, he had only been given a matter of a couple of weeks to live after it was discovered that his own heart was only functioning at a weak 10% of it's normal capacity, yet when he was fitted with what is better known as the Jarvik 2000, it gave him a new lease of life. The artificial pump used a turbine to increase his failing heart capacity with each beat it makes. The turbine was powered by an external battery which used a simple wire through his skull to reach the turbine in the chamber of his heart.
At the time of the operation, the risks had been high and doctors were quite openly unsure as to whether the metal heart was actually going to work, but Mr Houghton decided to go ahead with the operation, and a success, it thankfully was.
Yet after multiple organ failure, he died a few days ago on November the 25th at Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham, after enjoying seven precious years he would not have had at all.
He will be remembered not only for being the first patient to be fitted with a permanent heart but also for his charity work after his recovery where he raised much funds and growing awareness by taking part in fitness walks to raise money.
He was passionate about the new life he had been given and lived it to the full by also encouraging vital help and work to give children suffering the same condition a chance to enjoy more years with the artificial heart.
A close friend, John Lloyd, who also helped with the charity along side Mr Houghton for Heart Research UK said,
"I think he shocked everyone really. When he had the operation it was touch-and-go whether he was going to get through it as there were several complications. Before he had even had the last rites and said goodbye to his friends and family. He called the last seven years his 'extra time' and really made the most of it by showing people what a difference it had made to him and what the treatment could do for others."
The revolutionary turbine will allow heart patients to leads relatively normal lives and in the case of Mr Houghton, years are now within reach as a life expectancy rather than a few months. Because the pump had only been used as a temporary measure, it proves now that it can be a permanent fixture for people. It also now means that the heart transplant waiting list will go down as patients desperately needing a new heart can wait without the worry.
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