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A 61-year-old man who had a serious heart condition was released from a hospital Saturday after his condition recovered enough to do away with a left ventricular assist system, or LVAS, following a transplant of his own bone marrow cells, the Saitama Medical Center announced.

“Some patients equipped with artificial hearts have seen their heart functions recover naturally, but I believe bone marrow cell transplant had some effect (on the man),” said professor Shunei Kyo, who treated the patient.

The man was hospitalized after developing acute myocardial infarction in February, and at point his heart stopped beating, according to the hospital in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture.

He later suffered ischemic cardiomyopathy, which results when the arteries that bring blood and oxygen to the heart are blocked, and was given an LVAS while keeping his heart intact, the hospital said.

The LVAS is essentially a high-speed rotary blood pump, consisting of a blood chamber, an air chamber, a driveline, and inflow and outflow conduits.

Because of his age and other factors, a heart transplant was considered inadvisable. Doctors therefore in May transplanted bone marrow cells from his own body to the heart via coronary arteries.

The transplant led to a recovery of heart tissues and blood flow, and his condition improved to the point that doctors removed the LVAS on June 30, according to the hospital, which is affiliated with the Saitama Medical School.

Kyo said it was perhaps the first time anywhere that a patient suffering from ischemic cardiomyopathy has had the LVAS removed.

In animal testing, it has been confirmed that cells contained in bone marrow transfigure into cardiac muscle cells after being transplanted, thereby helping recover the lost functions of the heart.

Currently, most of the patients equipped with artificial hearts wait for heart transplants. The ethics panel of the medical school approved the treatment involving transplant on bone marrow cells in 2003.

The man, whose name has not been released, issued a statement saying: “People’s efforts saved my life that I had lost at one point. I wish this treatment method would save the lives of many other patients who suffer from the same ailment.”

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