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Exclusive: Ground-breaking heart artery device for some NZ patients

A New Plymouth transport worker has become one of just a few hundred people in the world to receive a new device which is used to treat blocked arteries. 

Trevor Fairhurst has become one of just a few hundred people in the world to receive the new device used to treat blocked arteries. Source: 1 NEWS

Fifty-five-year-old Trevor Fairhurst told ONE News from his hospital bed his symptoms came on in June when he "felt a little bit dizzy and started to get some minor pain in my chest".

Tests confirmed an artery in the father of two's heart was blocked with plaque and he urgently needed a stent inserted to unblock it. 

But instead of a normal drug-coated metal stent, used routinely since the 1980s, Mr Fairhurst got the very latest in absorbable technology.  

The German invention is called the Magmaris, a tiny drug-infused scaffold made of magnesium alloy which should fully dissolve and be absorbed into his body within a year.

"The stent, once its put in, it stays there permanently for life. Whereas a scaffold will just stay there for the time it needs to stay in and then eventually will get re-absorbed and goes away and you get your normal vessel back again," said Dr Sanjeevan Pasupati an interventional cardiologist.

Health insurer Southern Cross covered Mr Fairhurst's surgery at a Hamilton private hospital unit this week.

Dr Pasupati first inserted a wire up through a radial artery and soon located the blocked heart vessel, which an infrared camera confirmed was 90 per cent blocked.

Mr Fairhurst was awake for the whole procedure, during which the scaffold was placed over the blockage point then ballooned out.

The Magmaris is made of magnesium alloy, found naturally in the body.

"It's actually in our muscles. It's mostly in our vessels as well," Dr Pasupati said.

And unlike permanent metal stents which stop the vessel from normal motion and contraction and which can re-block, a dissolvable stent eventually gives the vessel back its full motion.

Once in position, the scaffold was checked and the procedure was over. 

Just 300 of the scaffolds have been used worldwide since May and cardiologists say they'll initially only be used on patients with certain kinds of blockages.