LOS ANGELES – A 74-year-old man who received a self-contained artificial heart has died, eight weeks after the device was implanted, doctors said Thursday. He was the third recipient of the pioneering device to die.
Doctors at UCLA Medical Center, who implanted the AbioCor heart into the patient Oct. 17, said the man died Wednesday.
The man, whose identity was kept confidential at the request of his family, was the fourth of six people who have received the artificial heart and the third to die.
"The patient and his family showed great courage," said Dr. Hillel Laks, the principal surgeon for the UCLA program. "We are all grieved that we could not extend his life further and return him to a better quality of life."
Doctors said the device continued to perform well, but the patient died from multiple organ system failure. Life support was withdrawn at the request of the family, doctors said. The patient is survived by his wife, seven children and 10 grandchildren.
The first recipient of an AbioCor heart, Robert Tools, died in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 30 after almost five months with the plastic-and-titanium device in his chest. He was 59. His death was blamed on severe abdominal bleeding and organ failure caused by his long-standing health problems.
The UCLA patient never got well enough to leave the hospital. But before he suffered the first of a series of setbacks in early November, Tools had recovered enough to make frequent day excursions outside the hospital, including a fishing trip. Doctors had said they hoped he could be home for Christmas.
Five more implants have been done since Tools' surgery in July, in Louisville, Houston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. One man died of uncontrolled bleeding during the surgery.
The AbioCor heart, made by Massachusetts-based Abiomed Inc., is intended for patients with end-stage heart failure who have more than a 70 percent chance of dying within a month.
The completely internal pump, weighing less than 2 pounds, is powered through the skin by an external battery pack. Earlier artificial hearts, like the Jarvik-7, had wires or tubes that stuck out of the chest and connected to a big compressor.
The AbioCor patients are part of a federally approved clinical trial. Abiomed hopes to have the device on the market within the next few years.