Arizona man Charles Okeke spent the last two years of his life connected to a 400-pound machine that functioned as his heart. Now, he's able to shed that bulk thanks to the new "Freedom Driver," a backpack-powered, totally artificial heart that's letting him leave the hospital grounds. He's an honest-to-goodness bionic man.
The Freedom Driver's advanced miniaturized technology makes totally artificial hearts possible. Produced by Tuscon's SynCardia — the same company behind the Total Artificial Heart that was keeping Okeke alive for two years — the Freedom Driver only weighs 13 pounds. Children go to school with book bags heavier than that.
Okeke isn't the first person to depend on a completely artificial heart. It's a common layover on the way to a heart transplant. He is the first, however, to leave the hospital with one, and the first to test the Freedom Driver. Consider this: Keeping people alive while they wait for a suitable donor, without robbing them of their day-to-day freedom? That's a major breakthrough.
Amazingly, doctors say that even if a suitable donor is not found, Charles Okeke may be able to live the rest of his life with the Freedom Driver instead, which costs upwards of $125,000 and $18,000 a year to keep running. Check out the Freedom Driver and Charles Okeke in the video below.