Tennessee Farmer, Saved by the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart, Returns to Virginia to Complete 25th Anniversary Vacation
One year later, Jack and Mary Jones stop to thank Sentara Heart Hospital staff who saved Jack in 2013
with the SynCardia Heart, which bridged him to a donor heart transplant.
TUCSON, Ariz. – Oct. 22, 2014 – When Jack and Mary Jones first showed up at Sentara Heart Hospital on July 21, 2013, Jack was unconscious, fighting for his life after suffering a heart attack. It was the first day of the couple’s vacation to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.
In July 2014 Jack and Mary went back to Virginia where they started their trip. It was a year later to the day. They took their bicycles to tour parts of Norfolk and rode their bicycles to Sentara Hospital to thank as much of the staff as they could for taking such good care of Jack.
Jack says that the implantation the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart by Sentara saved his life through bridging him to a donor heart transplant. After a few days they drove off to finish their delayed vacation through the state.
In July 2013, Jack didn’t realize he was suffering from heart failure when the couple started their anniversary vacation. “I didn’t know I felt bad,” Jack says nearly 11 months after he received his heart transplant. “Looking back at some pictures I realized I was in worse shape than I thought I was.”
Mary agreed. “That first trip he really wasn’t feeling well. He was tired and slept in the car.”
Jack continued to feel worse that first night and was unable to sleep. Mary rushed him to a nearby hospital, where doctors tried angioplasty to open Jack’s clogged heart arteries. But that was not enough.
That day he was rushed by ambulance to Sentara, where the Joneses learned he was suffering from end-stage biventricular heart failure, in which the heart’s two ventricles can no longer pump enough blood for the patient to survive.
Mary, with the counsel of Sentara surgeons and physicians, made the decision to implant the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart. Jack was fitted with the Freedom® portable driver, which powers the SynCardia Heart, 57 days after the July 24 implant. The 13.5-pound portable driver allowed Jack to do cardiac rehabilitation and walk around the hospital, getting him stronger for his heart transplant.
Jack received his matching donor heart November 13, 2013. “The SynCardia Total Artificial Heart made my recovery that much better,” Jack remembers. “It helped me when I got my actual transplant.” Jack and Mary finally got to go back to their home in Greenbrier, Tennessee, December 13, 2013.
They’ve resumed their lives: Mary working as an accountant and Jack farming and tending to the wildlife on more than 500 acres of land they call Dry Creek Farms where he hunts deer, quail and turkey.
For their return trip to Virginia, the couple saw sights around Norfolk that Jack missed while he was hospitalized. They saw almost all of the hospital staff that were part of their care, from the surgeons to the parking valet. They reunited with the therapy dog, also named Jack, that kept human Jack company in the hospital. They did almost everything they originally wanted to “and a tad more,” says Jack recalls.
In October of 2014 they were able to again host their annual 1790s living history event on the farm where guests set up encampments, dress in period costumes and shoot flintlock rifles.
Jack says his experience has made him look at life differently. “You appreciate life a lot more, start paying a lot more attention to details. I don’t want to procrastinate. There’s so much I want to do and experience. It’s time to get started on it.”
Reflecting back on the summer of 2013, Mary and Jack marvel at how a last-minute change in their vacation plans put them closer to a SynCardia Certified Center where a SynCardia Heart would be immediately available.
“We were about in the only place in the area where he would come out alive,” says Mary. “The SynCardia Total Artificial Heart is invaluable. It is hope and it’s a chance, a very viable chance, at life.”
Jack says having the SynCardia Heart got him to where he is today. “Look at me,” he says. “The bottom line is it worked for me. I hope that someday it will be available to everyone in every state.”
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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 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, email@example.com, (520) 547-7463