An Artificial Heart Implanted into a 12-year-old boy at ZCH

24/04/2023 International Affairs Office

On April 24, in the Children's Hospital of Zhejiang University (ZCH), 12-year-old patient named Cheng Cheng walked around the ward with a backpack, interacting with his parents happily, and laughter could be heard from time to time in the room.

Cheng Cheng looks like an ordinary teenager on the outside, but inside is quite different. He is a young "Iron Man" with a valuable artificial heart implanted on February 25 2023, which needs to be "recharged" every day, and the artificial heart battery was contained in his backpack.


The gradual recovery of the patient is announcing the success of the artificial heart implant. Professor Shu Qiang, Secretary of the Party Committee of ZCH and director of the Heart Center said that it was the first artificial heart implantation operation in a children's hospital which set a new record of the minimum age and weight of artificial heart implantation in mainland China. After 2 months of postoperative rehabilitation, the child has been able to live a normal life, the heart function has been restored to grade II level. This marks a major breakthrough in the artificial heart clinical project of ZCH.

Cheng Cheng was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy after a physical examination because of feeding difficulties. Although his parents knew that the child was critically ill, they never thought of giving up active care. The medications for Cheng Cheng can only delay the course of the disease and cannot control the deterioration of the disease. In order to ease the progress of the child's disease, Cheng's parents relocated from a higher altitude area to a low one, and the child has to  take several medications. Even so, the child's disease progressed more rapidly, and gradually into the terminal stage of heart failure.


On Feb 25, Cheng Cheng was implanted the world's smallest magnetic suspension artificial heart after a detailed preoperative evaluation and preliminary preparation. Artificial heart implantation is highly demanding for the team that consists of cardiac surgeons, anesthesiologists, cardiologists, intensivists, technicians, and the external life support specialists, and it is a high-risk operation that faces challenges such as perioperative risk and long-term unique hemodynamic characteristics of ventricular assist system in children with end-stage heart failure. At the same time, Cheng Cheng is only 12 years old and weighs only 30.2 kilograms, both age and weight, breaking the lower limit of the previous artificial heart implant surgery.


"Artificial heart implantation is not just an operation. It requires long-term professional management. It is supported by multidisciplinary cooperation and strong comprehensive strength," Professor Shu Qiang introduced, “the artificial heart implantation team of ZCH has made full preparations. The multidisciplinary team of the heart center has been organized to carry out comprehensive theoretical and practical standardized training on the technology of ventricular assist devices for children for two and a half years, and a total of 650 mentees were trained in the fields of end-stage heart failure, ventricular assist devices, heart transplantation and animal experiments.