AK man uses portable 'driver' for artificial heart
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
SEATTLE (AP) -- A 51-year-old Wasilla, Alaska, man fitted with an artificial heart in a six-hour surgery last month has left a Seattle hospital to begin what may be a long wait for a heart transplant.
The Seattle Times reports that such artificial heart patients typically have been tethered to a 400-pound mechanical "driver." That meant they had to stay in a hospital until a donor heart became available -- a year or longer.
Christopher Marshall is using a backpack-sized portable driver being tested by the University of Washington Medical Center and other such centers. KOMO-TV reports that Marshall is one of about 40 in the United States trying the 13 1/2-pound device.
He was diagnosed in 1999 with an irregular fast heartbeat and a disease that destroys heart muscle. His condition worsened dramatically last year.
Still, when he and his wife arrived Jan. 23 in Seattle, they expected a short visit to heart specialists. They were told Marshall was so sick he needed a new heart - now.
They will stay in the Seattle area while they wait for a donor heart.