At the very end of the previous year, experts coming from the Institute for Cardiovascular Diseases “Dedinje” implanted a total artificial heart in a forty-four-year-old patient, Aleksandar Vuković from Sombor. After the artificial heart implantation, the patient had two huge inguinal hernias removed, which caused numerous problems. This successful team led by ass. Dr Sasa Borović, included medical doctors – specialists in various fields, including dr Dragana Košević, dr Mladen Boričić, dr Dragana Unić – Stojanović, dr Siniša Jagodić, dr Ljubomir Đoković, perfusers and intensive care nurses. The first total artificial heart was implanted four and a half years ago, and only in 2021, four patients received this artificial organ. Aleksandar Vuković is the fifth patient to receive this life-saving organ for him, and now, when Aleksandar, accompanied by his family, leaves the Institute completely recovered, doctor announce the sixth implantation.

Considering the number of implantations performed, the news regarding the implantation of a total artificial heart would not be ground-breaking if the doctors from Dedinje had not performed another feat: Just two weeks after the implantation, Aleksandar underwent bilateral hernioplasty. The surgeons, dr Marko Kalezić and dr Dejan Stojakov, both from the CHC “Dr Dragiša Mišović”, removed two huge inguinal hernias from the patient, which, no surgeon had dared to operate on before, due to the risk of heart failure.

– This was a very demanding procedure when, for the first time in the world, a bilateral hernioplasty was successfully performed at the Institute “Dedinje”, immediately after the artificial heart implantation, which makes this event special. Each new feature confirms that our house is an institution of the highest rank in the world, where new procedures and new achievements are simply taken for granted. That is the true purpose of existence of this institution, which will be even more ready for new, modern medical endeavors with the opening of “Dedinje 2”. We take special pride in the fact that we paid special attention to the cardiac insufficiency treatment in our programs. By establishing the Center for Cardiac Insufficiency we created an extraordinary team of experts who devoted themselves to treating the most severe heart patients in such a serious and successful manner – said prof. Dr. Milovan Bojić, Director of the Institute “Dedinje” while addressing the media on the occasion of these successfully conducted operations.

Cardiac surgeon Saša Borović, who was the leader of the team, explained that it was very important for Serbian citizens suffering from severe heart failure, to remain calm and to be convinced that this health institution provided treatments for the most severe form of cardiac insufficiency, which helped patients hope that the artificial heart provided to them would enable them to receive a donor organ someday.

– Until now, the most difficult heart patients could not find such solutions in Serbia, and now “Dedinje” offers them a solution in the form of an artificial heart, which is a survival bridge until a possible transplant appears. Despite difficulties during the pandemic, our patients should know that we are there for them at all times and that modern medicine, which we continuously adopt, offers solutions for the most serious diseases – dr Saša Borović said.

– Seeking salvation, Alexander came to our Institute in a very difficult condition. Although the prognosis was not promising, we did our best, following the latest guidelines for the treatment of cardiac insufficiency. We managed to stabilize his condition and maintain it with medication therapy for four years until he had an opportunity to receive an artificial heart as a substitute for his completely failing heart. Now he can calmly wait for the transplant. Cardiac insufficiency diseases are more lethal than malignant ones. Studies show that three times more patients die from a failing heart than from malignancy. Treatment of malignant diseases has always implied urgency which is not the case with cardiac insufficiency. Cardiac insufficiency treatment implies serious team work of medical doctors specializing in all fields, which is implemented in our institution. End-stage heart failure is a serious disease, but it does not have to lethal. We exist because of such patients – cardiologist dr Dragana Košević said.

– I am very happy that Aleksandar is recovering and going home to his family. I am proud that prof. Stojakov and I were a part of this team. I am glad that there is an extraordinary cooperation between our two institutions. It was a great challenge to perform this operation on a patient with recently implanted artificial heart, but we succeeded together – dr Marko Kalezić from CHC “Dr Dragiša Mišović” said.

– I feel great. Yesterday, I walked a whole kilometer through the hospital corridor, as well as 26 recommended steps. I am immensely grateful to the entire team of the Institute. I feel like Leonid, like a Spartan. I always carry a picture of Phoenix with me, because it is my trademark. I have risen from the ashes and come back from the dead three times so far – said the patient Aleksandar Vuković.

The artificial heart implantation program will continue to be developed as an extraordinary way to once again make the Institute “Dedinje” a part of the transplant program of Serbia.