HOSPITALS in 5 states ready to do artificial heart transplants following Kentucky surgery - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

HOSPITALS in 5 states ready to do artificial heart transplants following Kentucky surgery


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ While the world's first recipient of a self-contained artificial heart recovers, other hospitals are poised to perform similar operations.

``We are very much interested in getting the next one done,'' said Dr. Jaime Moriguchi, of UCLA Medical Center, one of a handful of hospitals approved to transplant the Abiocor artificial heart into a patient.

The Food and Drug Administration has given approval for five of the experimental surgeries to be performed. Hospitals in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Louisville, Boston and Houston are prepared to do them.

Moriguchi, who screens possible candidates for the surgery, said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles that his staff is awaiting approval from Abiomed Inc., the manufacturer of the device, to begin a clinical trial.

``We would like to do it as soon as possible, but we have hit a few snags administratively,'' Moriguchi said, adding doctors will perform one more surgery on a pig before the device is implanted in a human.

Drs. Laman A. Gray Jr. and Robert D. Dowling, University of Louisville surgeons, implanted the wireless, self-contained artificial heart into a terminally ill man Monday as part of an experiment to test the effectiveness of the device.

The man, who is described only as a diabetic in his mid- to late- 50s with a history of heart attacks, was on a ventilator but awake on Saturday, said Jewish Hospital spokeswoman Linda McGinity Jackson.

His condition has been stable all week and doctors remain guardedly optimistic that the experimental device will sustain him for at least 60 days.

``There's been no change in the patient,'' McGinity Jackson said Saturday. ``He's resting comfortably. Clinically, everything is going well.''

Surgeons at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia could begin the procedure within 48 hours of finding a candidate, but staff members are watching the progress of the man in Louisville, said Dr. Louis E. Samuels, who is participating on the transplant team.

``We're sort of holding ourselves to wait and see how the patient and the process goes in Louisville,'' Samuels said. ``We haven't come close to getting a patient who would qualify.''

Candidates for the surgery must be more than 18 years old, have an 80 percent chance of dying within 30 days and be ineligible for a human heart transplant. Thousands of Americans die every year from heart failure, including more than 2,000 last year who were on waiting lists for donor hearts.

Experts said it will take years before the device used here becomes widely available _ and only if it proves itself in long-term use among several dozen experimental patients.

Moriguchi said several patients have been asked about the surgery, but none have formally agreed.

Dr. O.H. Frazier, chief of cardiopulmonary transplant at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston, which is also approved to test the device, could not be reached for comment Friday.

In Boston, doctors at Brigham & Women's and Massachusetts General are also prepared to test the device.

Jewish Hospital doctors said there is no immediate plans to perform a second surgery. But the hospital continues to evaluate prospective candidates.

``We don't have anything imminent,'' Dowling said.
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