Dad with Donor Heart Enjoying Fatherhood Thanks to the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart
A congenital heart defect brought Andrew Weaver close to death from end-stage biventricular heart failure.
The SynCardia Heart kept him alive and helped build physical strength for his heart transplant.
TUCSON, Ariz. – Aug. 13, 2014 – Andrew Weaver and his wife, Heather, feared he wouldn’t see their daughter, Haley, grow up because he was dying of heart failure. Instead, Andrew gets to cherish family moments that he would have missed, thanks to the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart that bridged him to a heart transplant and his great medical team at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Murray, Utah.
In February 2012, when the family lived in Utah, Andrew discovered he had been born with a congenitally malformed aortic valve and had developed an aneurysm (bulge) of the ascending aorta. This all came to light only after he experienced chest pains, which worsened over time.
In October 2012, doctors attempted to replace his aortic valve and a portion of his aorta, but following the procedure his heart wouldn’t start beating on its own. He was rushed to Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute, where he was kept alive on ECMO, a machine that takes over the function of the heart and lungs, for a few days to see if he would recover—but he didn’t.
“He had profound biventricular failure,” Dr. Bruce Reid, surgical director of the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute’s Artificial Heart Program, said at the time. “We didn’t feel we could bridge him with anything less than a (SynCardia) Total Artificial Heart.”
Andrew was implanted with the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart on Oct. 18, 2012. Like a heart transplant, the SynCardia Heart replaces the two failed heart ventricles and four heart valves. It provides immediate blood flow of up to 9.5 liters a minute through each ventricle, more than what most healthy human hearts provide.
He regained his strength and eventually received a matching donor heart on Jan. 12, 2013.
Today, the family lives in Florence, Arizona. Andrew dotes on Haley. He takes her on outings, patiently allows her to paint his fingernails—“I’m just happy it’s green and not pink,” he says—and enjoys cuddling while they watch movies at home.
“Life couldn’t be better,” says Andrew, 33. “I’m very grateful to see my daughter’s second birthday. I’m glad to see my wife graduate with her bachelor’s degree.”
With a second chance at life, Andrew has changed his lifestyle. “I’m a lot more active now,” he says. “I’m conscious of what I eat and what I do. I’m not sitting on my butt playing video games.”
Once Andrew returned home with his new human heart, Heather, 29, completed her degree in English and is now working on a master’s degree in healthcare administration, inspired to help others who face what her family did with heart disease.
That experience also prompted her to write a book, Unbreakable: A Father’s Fight to Live. “The (SynCardia Total Artificial Heart) is the only reason my husband is alive today,” she wrote. “I just want everyone to know that there is hope.”
Andrew is emphatic about what the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart does. “At the end, it will save your life.”
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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, email@example.com, (520) 547-7463