When Carmat announced last year that they had put their artificial heart in a patient, who survived 75 days after having a one week prognosis, it became clear the medical technology was on the brink of its next leap forward. Earlier this month, French publication JDD reported that Carmat performed another artificial heart transplant (which we reported back in September) – the big news is that, after 8 months, the patient is still alive.
The second patient, whose identity has remained anonymous, reported that life with the Carmat was easy – “You forget you have [an artificial heart].” The battery-operated device allows him to do everything he would like, and given that requirements to undergo the experimental procedure include, again, a terminal prognosis (less than a month to live), you could say this is a miracle. Except that it’s not. It’s science.
I got to sit down with Carmat Director General Marcello Conviti at LFTC to talk about the problems the company faced (beyond R&D) – a lack of qualified heart-transplant surgeons to perform the operation, once the product is approved for use, is a serious issue. In fact, because there are only a certain number of organic hearts made available by donors each year, the market can only support so many heart surgeons – Carmat, of course, hopes to produce millions of these hearts per year in order to satisfy the growing number of patients likely to die while waiting on the heart transplant recipient list.
Forget Kong. Forget Docker. Forget Oculus. Carmat is building a portable, 100% artificial heart that you can put into any human. How do you calculate the lifetime customer value of a product that can turn your final days into months, or even years?
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