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South African hospital leads the continent to implant the world's smallest pacemaker

June 17, 2015 Remember Christiaan Barnard, the legendary heart surgeon from South Africa? Well he is gone to rest now, but his legacy lives on, and strong.

Forty-eight years ago Groote Schuur Hospital had a groundbreaking success with the first ever human heart transplant by the late Professor, and the facility continues to be foremost in the issues of the heart, especially recently, where it became the first hospital in Africa to implant the world’s smallest pacemaker known as the Medtronic Pacing System.

Cecil George Adams from Cape Town received the device two months ago after suffering a heart attack. According to him, “I was off from work, the firm closed and I stayed at home and went to Delft (township) and I came back home and my wife dished up and I had a pain while I was sitting there and I went to give my dog food and felt the pain getting big and so I phoned the ambulance and the ambulance came and said I had a heart attack,”

His story is different now, he says “This pacemaker helps me a lot because I can do anything, I can walk fast, before I walked and had to rest, even when I came to the hospital up the hill here, I must rest twice before I get on top,”

Doctor Ashley Chin is a Consulting cardiologist and electro-physiologist, and performed the procedure. According to the doc, three operations have been carried out so far to implant the Medtronic Pacing System as part of a worldwide clinical trial to prove its safety, and once this is achieved the device will be available commercially.

She said, “Basically it involves implanting a leadless (no wires) pacemaker into the heart and it’s called the Micra Transcatheter Pacing System and basically the procedure involves planting a leadless pacemaker, what we do is we give local anesthetic over the right groin area, through the groin area we insert a sheath and through the sheath there is a delivery system that deploys the leadless pacemaker into the heart and the device is positioned into the right ventricular apex and can be re-positioned a few times to make sure it’s in a good position, once its positioned the device is left there and the delivery system is removed.”

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