Featured in an Emmy Award Winning Fox Feature, Bill Wohl,
CardioWest™ temporary Total Artificial Heart Recipient,
Rides With Team SynCardia in El Tour de Tucson
TUCSON, Ariz. – Nov. 16, 2006 – Six years ago, Bill Wohl spent 159 days on the CardioWest™ temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH-t) awaiting a heart transplant. Since that time, Wohl has been active in promoting organ donation and has competed in several U.S. and International Transplant Games. On November 18th, he will be riding with the SynCardia cycling team in El Tour de Tucson.
Bill Wohl’s story was the subject of a Fox feature that recently won an Emmy Award for TV Excellence in News. After a massive heart attack destroyed much of his heart, Wohl received the CardioWest™ TAH-t. His recovery was steady and he was eventually able to visit the hospital gym while still on the artificial heart. This enabled Wohl to build up his strength and endurance and become a healthier transplant candidate.
In February, 2000 a donor heart became available. Brady Michaels, a movie actor and stuntman, died after a fall while preparing for a stunt; Bill Wohl received his heart. Two years later, this Scottsdale resident was riding in his first bicycle race and not long after that he began competing in the U.S. Transplant Games.
Since that time, Wohl has competed in Transplant Games around the world in cycling, swimming and track and has won numerous medals, most recently at the Australian Transplant games, winning medals in all three fields. Wohl looks forward to El Tour de Tucson each year, riding with the doctors who saved his life.
This year, the SynCardia team consists of friends and supporters of the mission of SynCardia and represents a wide cross-section of riders. Twenty-five cyclists ranging in ages from 14 to 64 are currently riding under the SynCardia banner for this year’s El Tour de Tucson. Each cyclist has ridden from four to seven thousand miles over the past year in preparation for El Tour.
The team is captained by SynCardia Founder Dr. Marvin J. Slepian. The youngest SynCardia rider is Robert Chorost, a Canyon Del Oro High School student who is also a talented basketball player. The oldest is Bob Gensler, retired from IBM, and a participant in many Arizona cycling events.
The CardioWest™ TAH-t replaces the patient’s dying heart. In most patients it is able to restore cardiac output. This facilitates recovery of vital organs, such as the liver and kidneys that have declined because of low blood flow. This improves the condition of patients who were near death from end-stage biventricular heart failure. The TAH-t makes them better able to survive a heart transplant. “The CardioWest™ saved my life and I hope that there will be lots of other people who will have this second chance,” said Wohl.
SynCardia Systems, Inc. in Tucson, Arizona is the privately-held owner and manufacturer of the world's first and only FDA, Health Canada and CE approved Total Artificial Heart for use as a bridge to transplant for people suffering from end-stage biventricular heart failure in which both ventricles can no longer pump enough blood for a person to survive.
More than 1,300 implants of the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart accounts for over 400 patient years of life on the device. Since January 2011 more than 400 SynCardia Hearts have been implanted.
The youngest patient to receive a SynCardia Heart was 9 years old; the oldest was 76 years old. The longest a patient has lived with a SynCardia Heart was nearly four years (1,374 days) before receiving a successful donor heart transplant Sept. 11, 2011.
SynCardia Systems also manufactures the Freedom® portable driver, which powers the SynCardia Heart while allowing clinically stable patients to leave the hospital to live at home and in their communities. The wearable Freedom driver has been used by more than 175 patients, accounting for over 100 years of support.