Nebraska Medical Center Transplants State's 1st SynCardia Total Artificial Heart Patient
42-Year-Old Greg Rathe Says, "I Feel Like I'm 16 Again," with New Donor Heart & Kidney
TUCSON, Ariz. – June 27, 2013 – For the second time this year, Greg Rathe's medical history has made state history. The 42-year-old father of two, who became Nebraska's first patient to receive the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart in March, recently became the state's fifth patient to receive a dual heart/kidney transplant.
"I feel perfect. I feel like I'm 16 again," said Rathe, who received his dual transplant at The Nebraska Medical Center on May 17.
It was the second heart transplant for Rathe, who received his first donor heart in 1996 after a sudden onset of viral cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart muscle. After 17 years of life with his first transplant, his symptoms returned earlier this year when his body began to reject the donor heart. In March, Rathe's condition became critical when he lost consciousness and collapsed.
"We knew if we didn't move forward with the Total Artificial Heart, Greg would not survive," said John Um, MD, surgical director of cardiac transplantation and mechanical circulatory support at The Nebraska Medical Center.
To save Rathe's life, on March 14, Drs. Mike Moulton and Um performed the state's first implant of the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart. Two months later, Rathe received the news he'd been waiting for, that a matching donor heart and kidney had become available.
"I don't know why it's happened to me twice," said Rathe, who has a tattoo on his right forearm commemorating his first heart transplant. "But I feel extremely lucky."
Rathe says he plans to get two more tattoos in a year or so, one for the Total Artificial Heart implant and one for his second transplant. In the meantime, he began cardiac rehabilitation on June 24, and has a lot to look forward to.
"Smiling and laughing. Fishing, hunting, my son, my daughter," he said. "That's just about everything."
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