Ochsner Medical Center Implants 1st Total Artificial Heart in Gulf South Region*
Bedridden for Months, 41-Year-Old Father of Five Was Walking Again Two Weeks after Implant
TUCSON, Ariz. – May 9, 2013 – When Alfred Williams was admitted to Ochsner Medical Center in December, the 41-year-old father of five had exhausted all treatment options for his enlarged heart. His condition, known as dilated cardiomyopathy, had progressed to end-stage heart failure affecting both sides of his heart. Unable to walk, he had been confined to a bed for months. Hospice care seemed like the only option Mr. Williams had left... until doctors approached him about becoming Ochsner's first patient to receive the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart.
"This device serves as a bridge to transplant which would buy him the time he needs to rehabilitate while waiting on an organ transplant," said Dr. Hector Ventura, Section Head of Heart Failure and Transplantation at Ochsner Medical Center.
To save Mr. Williams' life, on Feb. 21, the Ochsner medical team, led by Dr. Aditya Bansal, performed the first implant of the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart in the Gulf South Region*. Within two weeks of the surgery, Mr. Williams was out of bed and walking again. He has since been moved out of the ICU and is taking twice daily walks around the hospital.
"This is a guy who didn't walk for three months before his implantation," said Dr. Bansal. "Now he is walking all over the hospital. It is a feeling of satisfaction and that as a group, we've made a difference – we've changed his life."
An experienced truck driver, Mr. Williams was diagnosed with heart problems after getting a “funny feeling” and having trouble breathing while driving one day. He immediately pulled over and dialed 911. By the time help arrived, he was seizing and receiving limited oxygen to his brain.
“If it wasn’t for the Ochsner team, I probably wouldn’t have made it,” said Mr. Williams. “They took care of me and I’m determined to get better. I have to show them love because they helped me through this fight. I thank each and every one of them who was a part of this.”
Today, Mr. Williams is on the transplant list waiting for a matching donor heart and kidney. With his new outlook on life, he has one goal in mind – to attend the high school graduation of his youngest daughter later this month, who plans to go to nursing school.
*Ochsner defines the Gulf South Region as the area extending from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.
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.
Janelle Drumwright, firstname.lastname@example.org, (520) 547-7463