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US teen lives 118 days without heart

An American teenager survived for nearly four months without a heart, kept alive by a custom-built artificial blood-pumping device, until she was able to have a heart transplant, doctors in Miami said on Wednesday.

world Updated: Nov 21, 2008 01:35 IST

An American teenager survived for nearly four months without a heart, kept alive by a custom-built artificial blood-pumping device, until she was able to have a heart transplant, doctors in Miami said on Wednesday.

During that time, Simmons was mobile but remained hospitalised.

Doctors said they knew of another case in which an adult had been kept alive in Germany for nine months without a heart but said they believed this was the first time for a child.

The patient, D’Zhana Simmons (14) of South Carolina, said the experience of living for so long with a machine pumping her blood was “scary”. “It was like I was a fake person, like I didn’t really exist. I was just here,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper, at a news conference at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center.

Simmons suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart is weakened and enlarged.

She had the first heart transplant on July 2 but the new heart failed to function properly and was removed.