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SynCardia Systems, Inc.

Press Release:

1st Total Artificial Heart Patient Discharged Home
from Sentara Heart Hospital

63-Year-Old John Martino Looking Forward to Watching His 4 Grandchildren Grow Up



TUCSON, Ariz. – March 15, 2012 – SynCardia Systems, Inc., manufacturer of the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart, announced today that on March 7, Sentara Heart Hospital in Norfolk, VA, discharged its first Total Artificial Heart patient home using the Freedom® portable driver.

"We expect Mr. Martino to be able to exercise, visit with friends and family, and lead a relatively normal life now that he is home," said cardiologist Dr. John Herre, medical director of the Sentara Advanced Heart Failure Program.

John Martino, a 63-year-old grandfather of four, is the second patient to be implanted with the Total Artificial Heart at Sentara and the first to be discharged from the hospital to wait for a matching donor heart at home. Sentara's first patient, who received the Total Artificial Heart on Oct. 26, 2011, was successfully transplanted on Jan. 3, 2012. 


"Our goal with Total Artificial Heart patients is to make them as strong and healthy as possible while awaiting a heart transplant," said Dr. Michael McGrath, a cardiac surgeon at Sentara Heart Hospital. "Replacing the diseased heart with the Total Artificial Heart helps keep the body functioning close to normal."

Mr. Martino was first diagnosed with hypertension in his early 20s when the draft board rejected him for service in Vietnam. Since then, his heart health has continued to decline – he's had his aortic valve replaced, double-bypass surgery and a pacemaker. In need of a heart transplant and running out of time, Mr. Martino's doctors decided his heart was too damaged for a left ventricular assist device (LVAD). On Jan. 19, he was implanted with the Total Artificial Heart as a bridge to transplant.

Less than a month later, Mr. Martino's condition had stabilized and on Feb. 20, he was switched from the 418-pound "Big Blue" hospital driver to the 13.5 pound Freedom portable driver, the world's first wearable power supply for the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart. He was discharged from the hospital on March 7.

"I'm thankful to be here," said Mr. Martino, who is looking forward to sitting in his lounge chair and sleeping in his own bed. "I have four grandchildren and that's what I live for now. I want to be able to see them grow up. So the longer I can be around to do that, I'm thankful."

The Freedom driver is CE approved for use in Europe and undergoing an FDA-approved Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) clinical study in the U.S.

View news coverage from Sentara's press conference
Read press release from Sentara Heart Hospital

CAUTION – The Freedom® portable driver is an investigational device, limited by United States law to investigational use.


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 temporary 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.

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SynCardia Contact:
Janelle Drumwright,, (520) 547-7463



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