Total Artificial Heart Recipient Celebrates 10 Years of Life with Donor Heart
“Worst Cardiac Case in Hospital’s History” Now Decorated Transplant Games Athlete
TUCSON, Ariz. – Feb. 16, 2010 – On Feb. 22, Bill Wohl, a former recipient of the SynCardia temporary CardioWest™ Total Artificial Heart, will celebrate 10 years of enjoying life to the fullest with the donor heart he received at University Medical Center on Feb. 22, 2000.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said Wohl. “If it wasn’t for the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart and my transplant, my son and daughter wouldn’t have a father and I wouldn’t be here to enjoy them.”
On Easter Sunday 1999, Wohl went to the emergency room for what he thought was food poisoning, but doctors discovered he had suffered a massive heart attack. Wohl was told he needed a heart transplant, but was too sick to receive one. Over the next six months, Wohl was hospitalized 17 times. Then, on Sept. 13, 1999, Wohl’s organs began to shut down. To save his life, doctors implanted the Total Artificial Heart.
“I am so blessed to have survived in 1999,” said Wohl. “It took a month after I received the Total Artificial Heart at University Medical Center for me to wake up from a coma. Rich Smith, Director of the Artificial Heart Program, told me I was the worst cardiac case in the hospital’s history.”
Wohl credits his “Triangle Theory” for helping him become healthy enough to receive his donor heart after 159 days with the Total Artificial Heart.
“Patients need to sleep better, eat better and exercise more,” said Wohl “I was only scheduled to go to cardiac rehab once or twice a week, but by the end of my hospital stay, I was begging to go down there six or seven times a week. Exercise helped make my body stronger and better prepared for my transplant.”
Today, Wohl is a decorated transplant games athlete who competes monthly in swimming, cycling and running. In 2008, he had the special opportunity to spend a week with his heart donor’s parents, Stan and Paula Brady, at the U.S. Transplant Games in Pittsburgh. He presented each of them with a gold medal he won during the week.
“It meant so much to me,” said Wohl. “It was one of my proudest moments. If I were scripting a movie, I couldn’t have written it any better.”
Another of Wohl’s accomplishments is helping establish specialty license plates for organ donation in the state of Arizona. In 2002, Wohl brought up the idea during a transplant foundation meeting in Phoenix and fellow Total Artificial Heart and transplant recipient Leo Corbet helped make it a reality. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, as of Dec. 31, 2009, there were 4,693 Donate Life plates registered in the state of Arizona. The Arizona Coalition for Transplantation receives $17 of each $25 plate purchase and renewal.
“I’ve been able to help people and make a difference with my second chance at life,” said Wohl. “I think that’s why I’m still around today.”
About SynCardia Systems, LLC
SynCardia Systems, LLC in Tucson, Ariz., is the privately-held manufacturer of the world's first and only FDA, Health Canada and CE approved Total Artificial Heart. For people suffering from end-stage heart failure affecting both sides of the heart (biventricular failure), the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart is used as a bridge to transplant, helping them survive until a matching donor heart becomes available. SynCardia also manufactures the Freedom® portable driver, which powers the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart and allows clinically stable patients to be discharged from the hospital to enjoy life at home while they wait for a heart transplant.
Janelle Drumwright, firstname.lastname@example.org, (520) 547-7463