First SynCardia Total Artificial Heart Patient Discharged, Home for the Holidays from UCLA

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35-Year-Old Chad Washington Rejected His First Donor Heart, Waits for Second Transplant

SynCardia, Total Artificial Heart, Artificial Heart, Freedom driver, UCLA Medical Center, Chad Washington, Robert Shemin, Mario Deng, Murray Kwon, heart failure, heart transplant, donor heart, donor heart rejection

SynCardia Total Artificial Heart patient Chad Washington is an aspiring personal chef who has suffered from congenital heart disease all his life. He is currently waiting for a matching donor heart at home using the Freedom portable driver to power his Total Artificial Heart, which he is wearing in the Backpack.

SynCardia Systems, Inc., manufacturer of the world’s first and only FDA, Health Canada and CE (Europe) approved Total Artificial Heart, announced today that Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles has discharged its first patient to receive the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart. Chad Washington, 35, left the hospital on Dec. 10, in time to celebrate the holidays at home with his wife and 4-year-old son using the Freedom® portable driver to power his Total Artificial Heart.

"This technology offers a lifeline for patients who are in severe heart failure and dying," said Dr. Richard J. Shemin, professor and chair of cardiothoracic surgery at UCLA and surgical director of the UCLA Mechanical Circulatory Support Program. "The Total Artificial Heart offers advantages over other devices used for mechanical support of patients awaiting a heart transplant. With the new Freedom driver for powering the device, the patients can leave the hospital, live at home and undergo rehabilitation, improving their clinical condition and quality of life as they await their transplant."

Washington, an aspiring personal chef, has suffered from congenital heart disease all his life. Starting at 10 days old, he has undergone a series of heart-repair surgeries throughout his life, including having pacemakers and a defibrillator implanted.

After Washington’s condition deteriorated as an adult, he received a heart transplant in February 2012. However, six months later, the donor heart started showing signs of rejection that did not respond to therapy. A second transplant wasn’t possible because his body had built up antibodies that would likely attack a new heart.

To save Washington’s life, on Oct. 29, 2012, the team at UCLA performed its first implant of the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart, led by Dr. Murray Kwon, assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery.

"By removing the patient's diseased donor heart, we removed the source of his end-stage heart failure," said Dr. Ali Nsair, assistant professor of cardiology. "The Total Artificial Heart — and being off immunosuppressant medications — allows his body to recover and get ready for a heart transplant in a few months."

Washington says he’s grateful the Total Artificial Heart is keeping him around for his son, who enjoys the ticking sound it makes. “He likes it. He thinks it's cool,” said Washington. “But he still thinks his toys are cooler.”

Weighing 13.5 pounds, the Freedom portable driver is the world’s first wearable power supply for the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart. The Freedom portable driver is CE approved for use in Europe and undergoing an FDA-approved Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) clinical study in the U.S.

"The ability to be at home with family is an important element in helping the patient to maintain a positive outlook during the waiting period," added Dr. Mario Deng, a professor of cardiology and medical director of the UCLA Advanced Heart Failure/Mechanical Support/Heart Transplant Program.

  • Watch video of Chad Washington at home for the holidays

•View news coverage of UCLA’s first discharge -

•Read press release from UCLA -

CAUTION – The Freedom portable driver is an investigational device, limited by United States law to investigational use.


About the SynCardia Temporary Total Artificial Heart

SynCardia Systems, Inc. (Tucson, AZ) is the privately-held manufacturer of the world's first and only FDA, Health Canada and CE approved Total Artificial Heart. Originally used as a permanent replacement heart, SynCardia's Total Artificial Heart is currently approved as a bridge to transplant for people dying from end-stage biventricular heart failure. There have been more than 1,000 implants of the Total Artificial Heart, accounting for more than 270 patient years of life.

Similar to a heart transplant, SynCardia's Total Artificial Heart replaces both failing heart ventricles and the four heart valves, eliminating the symptoms and source of end-stage biventricular failure. Unlike a donor heart, the Total Artificial Heart is immediately available at SynCardia Certified Centers. It is the only device that provides immediate, safe blood flow of up to 9.5 liters per minute through each ventricle. This high volume of safe blood flow helps speed the recovery of vital organs, helping make the patient a better transplant candidate.

SynCardia Wins Two Gold Stevies® at 2012 American Business Awards
On June 18, 2012, SynCardia was honored with two Gold Stevie® Awards at the 10th Annual American Business Awards. SynCardia won "Company of the Year – Health Products and Services" and "Most Innovative Company of the Year – up to 100 Employees." See the full list of SynCardia Awards & Recognition, which includes accolades from Forbes, Fast Company and more.

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Don Isaacs
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