On Valentine's Day, surgeons at the University of California San Diego performed the most romantic procedure possible: They installed a second heart in 36-year-old Tyson Smith's chest, so he could have "two hearts beat as one."
Warning: In case it isn't obvious, the video above features graphic medical images.
Though rare, "heterotopic heart transplantation" has been around for years. Doctors fuse the two hearts' left atria together, positioning the new heart to the right of the original. A member of the surgical team explains the rationale:
Even though Mr. Smith was facing death he could not have a standard heart transplant. Removing the old heart and replacing it with a new heart would have caused the new heart to fail, because resistance to flow in his lungs—called pulmonary hypertension—was so high. But together, the two hearts share the work and get the job done.
UCSD Medical Center put video of the uncommon procedure on YouTube. They say the procedure was a success; Smith is expected to return home in two weeks and be back on his feet in a few months, at which point all the world's poets will enter a pitched battle for the love of this living, walking opportunity for extended metaphor. [Daily Mail, UCSDMedicalCenter]