Second Patient Receives Artificial Heart in Kentucky

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A second patient received a self-contained artificial heart Thursday in the same procedure that has extended the life of the world's first recipient of the battery-powered pump.

The softball-sized device was implanted into the chest of a 70-year-old man Thursday morning at Jewish Hospital, according to Abiomed Inc., the device's maker. The first implant was done at the same hospital.

"The patient is now recovering in the intensive care unit at Jewish Hospital," Abiomed said in a news release.

The surgery was performed by University of Louisville surgeons Laman Gray Jr. and Robert Dowling. The two had implanted the AbioCor artificial heart in the chest of Robert Tools on July 2 at Jewish Hospital.

Abiomed, of Danvers, Mass., did not identify the second patient.

The patient was identified, however, by the News-Enterprise of nearby Elizabethtown as Tom Christerson of Central City in western Kentucky.

Abiomed said additional information about the patient would be made available when his doctors or family consider it appropriate.

Doctors say the titanium and plastic pump has worked flawlessly in Tools, who was recently removed from intensive care. He was given only a slight chance of surviving 30 days without the artificial heart.

Tools' identity was not revealed until weeks after his historic surgery.

The device has no wires or tubes that protrude from the chest. It includes an internal battery and controller that regulate the pumping speed. An external battery powers the device by passing electricity through the skin.

The federal Food and Drug Administration has approved the experimental device for use in five patients, all dying of heart failure and so sick they are ineligible to receive human heart transplants.

Under terms of the FDA approval, the company could proceed with five more operations if the initial five are successful. If those five go well, the company could have five more operations before mid-2002.

Besides Jewish Hospital, four other medical centers in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston and Houston are working with Abiomed.