You all know what it’s like to be called heartless, but thankfully it’s only been said to you in the figurative sense, when you did something like take the last M&M from the packet.
But can you imagine what it would be like to be literally heartless?
Like, to have an empty space where your heart
used to be and living without heart.
You might be thinking right now that this is not possible, but you’d be wrong to assume that.
We know that because these words were spoken by a U.S. teen who lost her heart for a few months,
“It was like I was a fake person, like I didn’t really exist. I was just here.”
Yep, she didn’t much enjoy her time without her vital organ.
We’ll get to her miraculous story soon, but first let’s give you a rundown on
How science has tried to fix the problem of living without a heart.
We hate to state the obvious, but we should let you all know that some hearts work better than others.
That’s not always because of age, or lifestyle,
or even disease, some people are just born with what are called congenital heart defects.
Sometimes a bad heart needs to be replaced,
and so we have a thing called heart transplantation.
The problem is, there just aren’t enough
hearts to go around.
We’re gonna point out the obvious again here and tell you that donors aren’t alive and well and decide to give up their heart.
What happens, is someone who is declared brain dead and on a ventilator, and had before this downfall agreed to donate his or her heart,
they will have their heart removed and it can go to someone who needs it.
The problem is, there are thousands of folks just in the U.S. on the waiting list.
There are a lot of “dodgy tickers” in the world, as the British might put it, and not enough donors.
Even if a person is lucky enough to get a new heart, that transplanted heart would have had to have been a good match.
Usually the donated heart has to be transplanted within about four to six hours, and there’s always a chance the living person’s body might reject that heart.
That’s pretty selfish of the body, but hey, it’s picky about who it lives with.
We won’t go into too many details, because
this is not necessarily a heart transplant story.
What happened to the teen in the U.S. is way
more incredible than merely having a heart
But first you need to know why.
You see, because so many people need transplants and there’s not enough hearts to go around, science has been trying to make what are called artificial hearts.
As you can guess, it’s not an easy thing
In the 1960s, the National Institute of Health
created the Artificial Heart Program.
During that decade partial mechanical hearts
were put into young cows and for a while the
calves were fine, but after a few months they
That didn’t bode well for heart-needy humans of course.
In 1969, a U.S man went 64 hours with a pneumatic-powered artificial heart inside of him, but then 32 hours later he was dead.
This replacing hearts business was very tricky indeed.
It was in 1981 that a dentist from Seattle got the green light from the FDA to have a full artificial heart implanted.
He survived 112 days, but all the time he was fastened to a huge compressor that pumped air into him.
This was not a good time for the man, and he actually asked to die while he was hooked-up to the machine.
His mental and physical state for most of
the ordeal was terrible.
Things improved and artificial hearts got
somewhat better, but the chances of living to a ripe old age with an artificial heart was still off the cards.
Think about it, the real heart is a busy organ and it must pump blood around the body non-stop and it must do that job to perfection.
It can’t take time off…like the rest of the body, it is finely tuned… perfect for most of us.
When hearts start skipping beats or decide to take a break, or maybe go overboard with the pumping action, the person who owns them
generally does the hand-on-heart and fall-to-the-floor routine.
Getting it right is hard, and as one doctor put it, creating a workable artificial heart has become the “Holy Grail” for researchers.
So, we have a situation in which an artificial heart might keep a person going for a while, but it’s only supposed to be a bridge before that person can get a heart transplant.
Some people have to wait a long time, and those artificial hearts in some cases didn’t do the job.
The people died before they got the transplant.
It was only in the last decade that some people led pretty normal lives with a temporary artificial heart.
They weren’t confined to a hospital or didn’t
have to plug themselves into massive compressors.
In 2015, there were cases of people getting
artificial hearts and they just had to carry around with them a battery and air pump that
could fit into a backpack.
It was noisy, though, which could really get a person down when the pumping sound was 24/7.
Anyone close also had to hear it.
There are other dangers, too.
One guy who got one of these machines said while getting ready for a sponge bath he accidently knocked over the compressor and the battery stopped working.
That meant his heart stopped working, and
he fell to the floor ready to die.
Luckily, the back-up battery had his back
and his fake heart resumed activities.
The problem with that is the constant worry
the thing will malfunction and also having to remember to keep those batteries charged.
A dead battery means a dead person, and being hooked up to a valve and a compressor all day takes its toll on a person’s spirit.
It’s also high-risk odds.
Sure, having an artificial heart beats death any day of the week, but some people even fairly recently have died soon after the device was implanted.
One French recipient of an artificial heart got home after five months in the hospital.
In an interview he told a French newspaper,
“I have completely recovered.
I can walk, I can get up and I can bend down 10 to 15 times a day without any difficulty.
In fact, I have never felt so good.”
The guy died shortly after the interview.
True Story of D’Zhana Simmons
Ok, we might have taken some time to get around to the U.S. teen who lived with no heart at all, not even an artificial one, but if you didn’t know the back-story, her story wouldn’t mean that much to you.
So her name is D’Zhana Simmons and in 2008
when she was 14 years of age she got out of
hospital with a new heart.
Her original heart had become enlarged, and
so it had to go.
The girl would have died from this condition.
Her story is special because the doctors said she was one of a kind.
Ok, a German man survived with absolutely no heart, but he was the only one until D’Zhana came along, so she was the first child to go full heartless.
She said it was scary and she never knew if that machine was just going to malfunction, so talk about putting your trust into a device.
The girl had actually had a heart transplant
in the past, but that first heart didn’t take and she had to wait for another.
Doctors explained that with other cases, such as ones we have talked about today, the person’s heart is left in the body.
Sure, in the stories we have talked about people have been given a new artificial heart,
but with D’Zhana, she had the whole thing
removed and was kept alive by pumps connected only to blood vessels and left her living without heart.
What happened was called a “big deal” in medical science since it was the first time it ever happened for a child.
The head doctor told the press, “It had
never been done in a pediatric patient.”
D’Zhana herself said she was a kind of “miracle child.”
After her time without a heart she crossed that bridge and got a new heart, and this time it was the right fit.
She might need to replace it one day, but she seemed to be living well the last time the media talked about her.
Now you must be in the mood to hear about
another miracle, and so we have the perfect story for you.
Take a look at this incredible article, “Man who live 18 months on a Castaway Island.”
If that is not to your liking, have a look at this…Either way, they are both great stories.
Don’t forget to share and tell us what you think about this story of living without heart?