For people suffering from heart problems, sometimes availing a donor’s heart is the only way to make their body start functioning correctly. But obtaining a donor’s heart is a long process, with the waiting list going into months and sometimes even a year. Your doctor may suggest replacing the dysfunctional heart with an artificial one in conditions like this.
While artificial hearts are still new in India, they are available in most major cities. If your doctor has suggested you have an artificial heart transplant, then the first thing that would have cropped up in your mind would be, “how much will it cost?”. worry not we shall help you answer that question by looking at the cost of an artificial heart and also the various miscellaneous costs that can be associated with the procedure. so let’s have a look at it-
What is an Artificial heart?
An artificial heart is a device that is used to replace a dysfunctional heart and maintain the blood circulation and oxygenation of the human body to keep it alive. There are two types of artificial hearts that can be used depending on the time for which the heart is non-functional and external or internal modes of usage they are –
The heart-lung machine
While performing open-heart surgery, the heart is more or less non-functional, but the body needs to be supplied with blood to keep it alive. Here is where the heart-lung machine comes in – the machine works by diverting blood from the body into an oxygenator. When in the oxygenator, the carbon dioxide from the blood is removed. Oxygen is added, the oxygenated blood is then pumped back into the patient’s arterial systems.
Who is recommended a heart-lung machine?-
- A person undergoing heart-lung surgery
- While undergoing any medical procedure that requires the heart to be stopped.
Ventricular assist devices
Also known as mechanical hearts, these are artificial hearts that can help maintain the blood circulation in the body for extended periods of time. While using the VAD, the dysfunctional heart stays in the body of the patient, and either his right or left lower ventricle is attached to the device to keep the heart beating.
Who is recommended a VAD-
- People waiting for a donor’s heart for a heart transplant
- People who are not eligible for receiving a donor’s heart
- People who suffer from congenital heart defects
When is a person recommended an artificial heart?
An artificial heart is recommended for patients who have been on the waiting list for a donor’s heart for too long, or patients for whom arranging a donor heart before their condition worsens is difficult. They can be used for cardiac resuscitation after a cardiac arrest and to help the heart recover from the cardiogenic shock experienced after a heart surgery.
The artificial heart can help take the place of the dysfunctional heart and keep the body working until a donor heart can be arranged. Mechanical hearts are implanted after careful consideration and only after all medical management fails.
How Much Does an Artificial Heart Cost?
An artificial heart can cost around Rs 45 lakhs to Rs 1 crore depending on a range of factors like the place you decide to have your surgery in, the doctor you choose, and the hospital that you are put up in.
The artificial heart is still a new medical procedure in India, and not many hospitals offer it currently; this is a disadvantage as if the hospitals that provided artificial hearts increased the costs of the artificial heart could be brought down. But for now, you can create an approximate cost based on the parameters given below-
Before performing any surgery, the doctor will recommend some tests to ascertain if you are fit to undergo a surgery. While these tests may vary from doctor to doctor, the most commonly prescribed ones are –
- Blood test- the cost of a complete blood count in most major metropolitan cities in India can range around rs 100 – 200; this price can get lower as you move to the rural regions or in government hospitals.
- CT Scan – the average cost of a heart CT scan can be about 5000 to 10,000 rupees; it can vary according to the hospital and the region where the hospital is situated.
- Chest X-ray – taking an x-ray of the chest can cost you between 250 – 2000 rupees.
- Electrocardiogram – An electrocardiogram is used to measure your heart’s electrical signals. This test can cost you around rupees 150-500.
- Echocardiogram – This test provides a graphic outline of the heart’s movement. This can cost around rupees 2500 to 3500.
- Pulmonary functioning test – can range between rupees 300- 1500 based on the type of test performed.
While performing the surgery, various medications and surgery supplies will be used, which will be added to your hospital bill. The cost of fitting the artificial heart in your body will have to be borne by you. This will involve a trained heart surgeon. Based on the experience of the surgeon and the hospital you choose for your surgery, the cost you incur will fluctuate.
Immediately after the surgery is completed, The doctor will shift the patient to the intensive care unit. Based on the patient’s condition, the doctor will specify the amount of time they will need to be kept in the ICU; it can be a week for most people.
The cost of an ICU can be between 10,000 to 14,000 per day. This amount varies from hospital to hospital. While in the ICU, some patients may require a ventilator to help them breathe. On average, the per-day cost of a ventilator ranges between 15000 to 17000 rupees.
After your surgery is performed, you will most likely be asked to stay in the hospital for about a month under the doctor’s care. This is done to keep a close check on your health and ensure you do not develop any complications from the artificial heart.
The daily cost of a hospital room varies from hospital to hospital, while on an average, a standard room can cost you about 1000 to 5000 per day. This cost can decrease in rural or government hospitals and increase in private hospitals.
In private hospitals, you also have the option of choosing a room based on your liking; this will dictate how you are charged for the hospital room; a standard room will be cheaper than, say, a suite room. When budgeting for an artificial heart, take into consideration the amount of time you will be required to stay in the hospital and then decide on the type of room according to what you can afford.
Once fitted with an artificial heart, you might think one can resume everyday life; well, this is correct to some measure. Still, after being fitted with an artificial heart, you will have to take regular medication and immunosuppressants to keep your heart running.
The average cost of your medication can be put at 10,000 to 20,000 rupees. There are chances of infections, and to reduce this risk, there will be medication.
Charging the battery
An artificial heart runs on a battery hence requiring you to keep charging it frequently to keep it working. The hospital will provide you with the devices necessary for charging the artificial heart, but these will have costs involved.
An artificial heart is not a permanent solution; instead, it is a bridge to keep your body working until you receive a donor’s heart. There can be many complications that arise from an artificial heart like bleeding, stroke, blood clots, and infection. Hence you will be asked to hire a medical help to watch over you at all times. The cost of the medical help will have to be borne by you.
Q. Will I be able to eat after the surgery?
No, you will be kept in ICU and will be fed using an IV or a feeding tube to provide nutrition for your body in the starting days; it may take some time for you to be able to intake food normally on your own.
Q. For how long can an artificial heart last?
While artificial hearts are mainly not used as a long-term solution, a total artificial heart can stay working for 5 years, but this time differs for person to person.
An artificial heart is a ray of hope for people on the waiting list for a donor’s heart; it helps them stay alive while the arrangement can be made. Though a life-saving machine, artificial hearts can be costly, costing around one crore rupees, but this is not the total cost. There are more additional costs involved in the surgery, the post-surgery, and additional miscellaneous cost.
We have helped you come to a figure by providing you with the details of the costs you should be considering. You can always look for a government hospital or approach your health insurance to minimize these costs.
Let us know in the comments which point you found to be the most useful!