ARTIFICIAL heart recipient critical but stable following surgery to drain fluid

Thursday, July 12th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ The first human recipient of a self-contained artificial heart went back to surgery to drain fluid from his chest, his doctors said.

University of Louisville surgeons Laman Gray Jr. and Robert Dowling said fluid around the device's battery pack was drained Monday in a 30-minute procedure.

The patient was in critical but stable condition Wednesday, the doctors said. The man visited with family and friends and exercised.

The patient has been identified only as a man in his late 50s with diabetes and a history of heart problems.

The patient was removed from a ventilator Monday afternoon after the fluid was drained, but he was placed back on the ventilator Tuesday evening after he became fatigued.

The AbioCor, a softball-sized titanium and plastic pump, was implanted in the man's chest on July 2. The device includes an internal battery and controller that regulates the pumping speed. An external battery powers the device by passing electricity through the skin.

A rechargeable internal battery _ about the size of a pager _ will operate the device for up to 30 minutes, allowing the wearer to remove the external battery for short periods of time.

The AbioCor, developed by Danvers, Mass.-based Abiomed Inc., continues to function flawlessly, the hospital said.