By the end of next year, Greek heart disease sufferers will have the opportunity to undergo artificial heart transplants, doctors announced in Athens yesterday. According to heart surgeon Christos Lolas, vice president of the Hellenic Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery Society, Greek heart surgeons have already undergone training on artificial heart transplants. Lolas – who was speaking at a press conference ahead of a Balkan thoracic and cardiovascular surgery conference that opens on the island of Kos on Sunday – said the Athens Evangelismos Hospital has requested permission from Greece’s Health Ministry to offer patients with severe cardiac insufficiency treatment, initially with heart support machinery, and, later, full artificial heart transplants. The necessary equipment will cost about 293,500 euros (100 million drachmas) while each transplant operation will set patients back by 73,400 euros (25 million drachmas). According to Lolas, an estimated 300,000 Greeks of all ages suffer from cardiac insufficiency, which is believed to kill 40,000 every year.