For years, Leif Mikkelsen accumulated fluid in his abdomen for inexplicable reasons. He had to be admitted to hospital on a weekly basis to have the excess fluid removed. A small pump has now changed his life significantly.

AlfapumpFive months ago, doctors from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark implanted a so-called Alfa-pump in the abdomen of a patient; this patient was Leif Mikkelsen.

- This operation was the last way out of weekly removals of fluid from the abdomen. Leif has been through many examinations and treatments but we have not been able to identify the reason for the accumulation of fluid, says Niels Kristian Aagaaard consultant at Department of Hepatology and Gastroenterology at Aarhus University Hospital.

Representatives from the Swiss company that has developed the pump attended the operation to ensure the pump was fitted correctly.


Markedly improved quality of life

When the situation was at its worst, 10-12 litres of fluid was removed weekly from Leif Mikkelsen’s abdomen. He had difficulties managing the stairs in his house and for a time, he stayed at a nursing home. Today, he can drive around, shop and go for a walk. The almost 70-year-old pensioner is very impressed how the technology has helped him but also how committed the doctors are.

- How often do you get the private number of a senior doctor and he calls you in the evening to hear how you are doing? It really means a lot, says Leif Mikkelsen.


Data collection from the stomach

Once a day the pump has to be charged and information is extracted. Leif Mikkelsen puts a charger on his stomach where the pump is implanted. Data collection and charging take about 15 minutes. The charger sends the information to a server in Switzerland where it is analysed and sent by email to consultant Niels Kristian Aagaard in Aarhus.

- It is a very small number of patients who need this type of surgery but for those who get it, it is a considerable improvement of their quality of life, says Niels Kristian Aagaard. 

And Leif Mikkelsen agrees:

- Something had to happen – otherwise my life was becoming a bit too annoying, he says.