MEET the real-life Tin Man – a former firefighter who no longer has a heart.
Jakub Halik, 37, is the only the second person in the world to undergo pioneering surgery to replace his heart with two mechanical pumps.
The father-of-one was in peak physical condition until he collapsed and medics found a tumour in his heart, which was revealed to be an aggressive form of cancer.
He was told that he couldn’t survive a heart transplant because he wouldn’t be able to take the necessary drugs prescribed afterwards due to the cancer.
Jakub, from Neratovice in the Czech Republic, was left with no choice but to undergo the risky surgery to remove his heart completely, and replace it with a fake one until he could recover from the cancer.
The first patient to have the operation, Texan Craig Lewis, passed away just five weeks after the operation, meaning Jakub has made history by surviving for six months.
He said: “It was very difficult for me to decide what to do but an operation was my only chance.
“I was told that with the tumour I could expect to survive for no more than a year, so I decided to go for it and fight it all the way.”
On April 3, surgeons at the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague spent eight hours performing the extraordinary operation.
They inserted two 20cm pumps with propellers into his chest, with each propeller able to spin at 10,000 rotations per minute to replicate the pumping action of the heart.
Each pump is designed to replicate the separate tasks of the left and right side of the organ.
One of the devices pushes blood to the lungs while the other sends the oxygenated blood back into the circulatory system. However, they cannot replicate a pulse.
The pumps are powered by batteries which last between eight and 12 hours before they need to be recharged.
Following the operation, Jakub’s health deteriorated rapidly – tests revealed he had internal bleeding and kidney failure.
He muscles started to deteriorate and he lost a lot of weight. But miraculously, he made a remarkable recovery and is “doing extremely well” says Head Surgeon Jan Pirk.
Jakub, who is now on the waiting list for a heart transplant, said his life had been transformed following the operation.
He said: “It was a massive relief when I was told the surgery had gone well and everything was okay.
“I’m used to it all now. I don’t even realise I don’t have a heart any more.
“My perception of my body is still the same, the only difference is I can’t feel a heartbeat or a pulse now.
“I feel great though. It’s amazing to think I’m functioning like a completely healthy man when I don’t even have a heart.”