A Danvers company has received federal approval to sell as many as 4,000 artificial hearts a year, but only about 50 of the devices will be implanted, at most.
The food and drug administration granted Abiomed Incorporated what's called a humanitarian exemption, allowing the device to be implanted in patients who are close to death, and have no other treatment options.
So far, the artificial heart has been tested in 14 men. Two died from the operation, another never regained consciousness. The rest survived an average of five months--but one man survived 17 months.
This program aired on September 5, 2006. The audio for this program is not available.