Artificial heart allows mobility

Dec. 21, 2012 at 1:58 PM

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- A 35-year-old California man is walking around today with a total artificial heart as he waits for a heart transplant, his physicians say.

Chad Washington underwent a 7-hour transplant surgery at the Ronald Reagan University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center Oct. 29 that replaced his heart with an the SynCardia Temporary Total Artificial Heart -- a temporary pump that will act as a "bridge" until Washington receives a donor heart.

Dr. Murray Kwon, an assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery, said historically, patients with a total artificial heart had to remain hospitalized while they awaited a transplant because they were tethered to a large machine to power the device.

"Today, however, this device can be powered by advanced technology small enough to fit in a backpack, Kwon said in a statement.

Washington, an aspiring chef who is married and has a 4-year-old son, has suffered from heart disease since he was born and has had a series of heart-repair surgeries and pacemakers implanted.

Dr. Mario Deng, a professor of cardiology and medical director of the UCLA Advanced Heart Failure/Mechanical Support/Heart Transplant Program, said since the pump's energy source is portable, Washington can go home and resume normal activities with his family while he waits for a new heart.

"This ability to be at home with family is an important element in helping the patient to maintain a positive outlook during the waiting period," Deng said.

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