Incredible Health

Backpack powers Alaskan man's heart

Temporary solution saves life until transplant


A 51 year-old man is carrying around an essential lifeline in a backpack, reported.

Christopher Marshall from Wasilla, Alaska, is the first person in the Northwestern region of the country to receive an artificial heart.  Doctors from the University of Washington Medical Center implanted the heart in his chest, which beats thanks to a power supply Marshall carries in a backpack.

Marshall has suffered from a condition called cardiomyopathy since 1999, according to the Seattle news station.  Doctors recently determined his heart was failing and removed two-thirds of the organ, including many pumping chambers and valves, during a six-hour procedure.  They replaced it with the world’s only approved, 100 percent artificial heart.

While recovering in the hospital, Marshall had to be hooked up to a 400 pound machine called a driver to power his heart.  However, when he was discharged, he was able to instead use a much smaller battery-powered driver.  The small driver is still in trials and not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The fix is only temporary – Marshall still must wait for a donor transplant – but already he has made big strides in recovery.

“I walked four miles in the ward just the other day,” Marshall told “Last night I slacked off and only walked two and three quarter miles."

Meanwhile, he and his wife are trying to get used to the constant noise from his new heart and driver.

“I’m using earplugs at night,” he said. “Now that I’m going home my wife is going to have to get used to it.”

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