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Boy, 2, gets small artificial heart

Surgeons have brought a toddler back from the brink of death by outfitting him with a child-size artificial heart.

Emile Jutras, a dark-haired 2-year-old whose struggle for life has stirred the emotions of Quebeckers, became the youngest patient in North America to get a mechanical heart, doctors at Montreal Children's Hospital said Wednesday.

"The boundaries are falling," said Dr. Renzo Cecere, surgical director of the Center for Heart Failure and Heart Transplant at McGill University Health Center.

Doctors and Emile's parents hope the device, which was connected to Emile's ailing heart over the weekend, will buy the boy time until a donor is found.

Emile's parents took him to the hospital three weeks ago after he had trouble breathing. Doctors discovered his heart had been severely damaged by myocarditis, a deterioration of the heart muscle caused by a viral infection.

A heart-lung machine kept Emile alive for 17 days, but last week he took a turn for the worse. Doctors turned to the German makers of the Berlin Heart, an external device that takes over the blood-pumping work of the left and right ventricles. It is not a permanent solution, only a bridge until a transplant can be performed.

The Berlin Heart has been used extensively in Europe but only one time in North America, on a 7-year-old Arizona boy who was kept alive by it in 2000 until a transplant. The boy made a full recovery.

Emile's Berlin Heart, about the size of an orange, is attached by tubes to his heart. It rests on top of his blankets as he lies, sedated, in the intensive-care unit.

His parents say that their child's color has improved and that he moves his hands when they speak to him.

Doctors said the Berlin Heart can keep Emile alive for two or three months.

Harper replaces Day at helm of Alliance Party

CALGARY, Alberta _ Canada's main opposition party elected a new leader Wednesday after Canadian Alliance members voted to end the short, fractious reign of Stockwell Day.

Stephen Harper, 42, a former Parliament member from the Reform Party, which became the Alliance Party in 2000, got just more than 55 percent of the mail-in ballots.

Day, who stepped down as party leader in December because of an internal revolt, got just more than 37 percent.

"The party needed new leadership," Harper said. He takes over a party badly depleted by the internal rift that saw leadership candidate Grant Hill and six others leave the Canadian Alliance in Parliament to vote with Conservative Party members in a new bloc.

Air Canada allows Rushdie as passenger

OTTAWA _ Air Canada has reversed its position and will take author Salman Rushdie as a passenger, Canadian Press said.

The airline had banned Rushdie, whose book The Satanic Verses generated death threats from Iranian clerics, from its flights because the extra security required could mean long delays for other passengers.

Rushdie's Canadian publisher, Knopf Canada, said Tuesday the author was immensely relieved.

"He is very, very relieved that it's resolved," Knopf spokeswoman Kelly Duffin said. "Obviously it's a personal matter to him and was hurtful on many fronts."

Air Canada confirmed the reversal, but declined to say what prompted it, except that it had consulted with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and security experts.

Knopf said Air Canada thought the FAA required special security measures if Rushdie was on a plane entering the United States.

"However, in January 2002, the FAA issued a directive to all carriers indicating that in fact there is no restriction on Mr. Rushdie's travel," the publisher said.

_ Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.