Rome hospital performs world's first operation on prematurely aged heart

Progeria sufferer Sammy Basso undergoes successful heart operation in Rome.

The world's first operation to repair a prematurely aged heart was carried out successfully at Rome's S. Camillo hospital on 23-year-old Italian Sammy Basso.

Basso is one of about 130 people in the world, and only four in Italy, who suffer from progeria, the extremely rare genetic condition that accelerates ageing.

The complicated operation, carried out on 28 January, was reportedly of a kind normally reserved for elderly patients suffering from heart disease. Basso was aware of the high risks involved in the procedure which was performed by a cardiac surgery team led by Francesco Musumeci, assisted by Roberto Violini and Elio D'Avino.

Basso has been followed for years at the world's largest progeria centre in Boston however he made the "difficult decision" to transfer to the Rome hospital after hearing about the "team who perform miracles." Prof. Musumeci described his patient as being in "excellent condition" and Basso is set to be discharged on 5 February.

From the town of Schia in the northern Italian province of Vicenza, Basso has won widespread praise for raising awareness of progeria as well as for his extremely positive attitude. He is the world's oldest survivor of the condition despite being given only 13 years of life expectancy when diagnosed at the age of two.

Basso, who is expected to return to Boston for tests, said the Rome operation was "a milestone for research on progeria, and has given new hope to young people with this condition."

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Rome hospital performs world's first operation on prematurely aged heart

00149 Roma RM, Italia