His Heart May Be Mechanical, But his Emotions Heart-Felt: 1st Patient in State Discharged with Total Artificial Heart

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Sixty-four-year-old retired postal worker becomes first patient in Illinois to go home from the hospital with a total artificial heart. Leroy Haynes was all smiles as he left Advocate Christ Medical Center with his wife, Patricia, at his side.

It was the only option to keep him alive

Sixty-four-year-old Leroy Haynes was all smiles as he left Advocate Christ Medical Center with his wife, Patricia, by his side, after becoming the first patient in Illinois to be discharged to home with a total artificial heart. The mechanical implant completely replaces the function of the human heart, doctors at the medical center said during yesterday’s (September 13) news conference.

Surgeons implanted the retired postal worker with a SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart, the latest advancement in mechanical heart technology. Haynes suffers from end-stage heart failure and requires this temporary device to remain alive while he awaits a heart transplant.

“The Total Artificial Heart is the first device of its kind to receive FDA approval. The device is implanted in place of the heart and keeps blood pumping throughout the body,” said Michael Bresticker, MD, cardiac surgeon, Advocate Christ Medical Center’s Heart and Vascular Institute. “This is tremendous technology that can have a lifesaving impact on patients who are experiencing advanced heart failure. For this patient, it was the only option to keep him alive until a donor heart becomes available.”

A 13.5-pound backpack is outfitted with a mechanical pumping device called the Freedom® portable driver, which is designed to power the Total Artificial Heart outside the hospital. The system will give Haynes the freedom to be more mobile and perform normal, daily activities.

The Total Artificial Heart serves as a bridge to transplant for patients who suffer from end-stage biventricular heart failure, a condition in which both sides of the heart become weakened and cannot pump blood adequately throughout the body.

“An artificial heart is distinct from a ventricular assist device, which is designed to support – not replace – a failing heart. It is also distinct from a cardiopulmonary bypass machine, which is an external device used to assume the functions of both the heart and lungs for only a few hours at a time, most commonly during cardiac surgery,” said Geetha Bhat MD, medical director of the campus’ center for Heart Transplant and Mechanical Assist Devices.

Surgeons say the Total Artificial Heart is appropriate only for patients with severe end-stage heart failure.

Meanwhile, Haynes was happy to be leaving the hospital where he spent some three months recovering and learning to be mobile and self-sufficient with his new mechanical companion.
“I’m looking forward to going home and enjoying my friends and family,” he said.

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