My heart will go on
Sixty-four-year-old Leroy Haynes was all smiles last fall as he left Advocate Christ Medical Center with his wife Patricia after becoming the first patient in Illinois to be discharged with a Total Artificial Heart.
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 mechanical device to completely replace the function of his heart while he awaits a transplant.
The Total Artificial Heart is the first device of its kind to receive FDA approval, says Dr. Pat Pappas, medical director of the Heart & Vascular Institute at Advocate Christ Medical Center. “This is tremendous technology. For this patient, it was the only option to keep him alive until a donor heart becomes available,” he says.
To power the artificial heart outside the hospital, doctors outfitted a13.5-pound backpack with a mechanical pumping device called the Freedom® portable driver. The system gives Haynes the freedom to be more mobile and perform normal, daily activities.
Haynes was happy to be leaving the hospital after spending three months recovering and learning to be mobile and self-sufficient with his new mechanical companion.
“I’m now able to enjoy my favorite pastimes at home, like read on my e-reader, spend time with my Labrador retriever and watch my favorite TV shows,” he says.
The Total Artificial Heart serves 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, says Dr. Geetha Bhat, medical director of Advocate’s Center for Heart Transplant and Mechanical Assist Devices. “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.”
The mechanical heart allows patients like Haynes to maintain a good quality of life while they await a donor heart.
“I can even accompany my wife when she goes shopping. I just plug my device into the wall and read while I’m waiting,” Haynes says.
Meanwhile, Patricia Haynes recently purchased an exercise bike.
“I plan to give that a try,” her husband says.
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