British woman now carries her “heart” around in a backpack after an AMAZING life-saving surgery
01/03/2018 // JD Heyes // Views

There is an expression that some people ‘carry their heart on their sleeve,’ which means those people tend to openly display their deepest thoughts and emotions.

But one British woman literally carries her heart on her back — in a backpack — following an amazing, first-ever surgery at one of the world’s top hospitals.

As reported by the U.K.’s Daily Mail, 39-year-old Selwa Hussain, a mother of two, was feeling out of breath and weak some six months ago when she barely made it to her car to drive about 200 yards down the road to see her family doctor in Clayhall, Essex.

Once there, she was immediately sent to a local hospital where doctors diagnosed her with severe heart failure. It didn’t look good.

Four days later, at the world-renowned Harefield Hospital in Harefield, London Borough of Hillingdon, England, where she was rushed by ambulance, doctors fought to keep her alive.

Eventually, it was determined that Hussain was just too sick to remain alive on a traditional heart pump. Worse, her condition was so bad that she wasn’t even a candidate for a heart transplant. As she continued to deteriorate, she and husband Al Hussain agreed that she should be given an artificial heart.

And what an artificial heart it is.

As the Daily Mail reports further:

Selwa’s diseased natural heart was removed by surgeons and replaced with an artificial implant and the specialist unit on her back. Selwa’s backpack contains two sets of batteries to power the motor and she has a second unit on standby in another backpack should the first fail.


The ‘mechanical’ heart works like this: A pair of large plastic tubes that are connected to the backpack enter her body through her belly button and then travel up to her chest. There, they fill two balloons inside her chest cavity with air, and that produces the effect of squeezing the heart so it will push oxygenated blood through her body.

The device pushes blood through her body at about 138 beats per minute, a rate that causes her chest to vibrate. There is a continual ‘whirring’ and pumping sound from the device’s motor that she must wear in a backpack when she leaves her home. Also, her husband or a caregiver can never leave her side because if the machine fails, there are only 90 seconds to hook Selwa to a backup machine (that must also be carried by husband Al or a caregiver).

But she’s alive, and this device is responsible for that.

“I was so ill before and after the surgery that it has taken me all this time to get fit enough to come home,” said the mother of a five-year-old boy and an 18-month-old girl.

Experts who diagnosed her with heart failure said she suffered from a condition known as cardiomyopathy. In rare cases, it is a condition that can be triggered by pregnancy, the Daily Mail noted. (Related: American Heart Association promotes recipes that CAUSE heart disease and other health disasters)

Earlier in the year when she first complained of chest pains, doctors believed she was suffering from a digestive illness, mostly because 39-year-old women don’t traditionally have heart conditions.

“The operation went very well and Selwa’s recovery has been excellent,” said Andre Simon, Harefield’s chief of transplantation surgery.

The hospital is the only one in the U.K. using the machine, which was made by a U.S. company. The operation took six hours.

Only one other person in Britain is living with an artificial heart, a 50-year-old male patient who was not identified by the paper. His surgery took place in 2011.

Eventually, the hope is that Selwa will receive a heart transplant, but for now, she’ll just have to carry her artificial ‘heart’ on her back. Nevertheless, she said, “For that, I am eternally grateful.”

Keep current on the latest medical news and information at

J.D. Heyes is a senior writer for and, as well as editor of The National Sentinel.

Sources include:

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