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SynCardia Temporary CardioWest Total Artificial Heart Assists Individuals With Donor Heart Rejection

During 2008, 10% of people who were implanted with the SynCardia temporary CardioWest Total Artificial Heart received the device because they were suffering from rejection of their donor heart transplant.

Jim Hennigan, 44, received his first heart transplant in 2004 but suffered from rejection of the new heart. In July 2008, doctors implanted Hennigan with the Total Artificial Heart and bridged him to a second heart transplant 310 days later.

“The Total Artificial Heart did a phenomenal job of keeping me healthy and active for more than 10 months,” said Hennigan, who was transplanted on May 8, 2009. “As a matter of fact, the Total Artificial Heart was so efficient that my body is still trying to adapt to my new ‘run of the mill’ human heart.”

Implantation of the Total Artificial Heart is similar to a heart transplant in that it replaces both heart ventricles, eliminating biventricular heart failure. However, unlike a donor heart, the Total Artificial Heart has no risk of rejection because it is made of biocompatible materials.

“For someone suffering from donor heart rejection, surgical implantation of any other device will increase the risk of infection because the patient is still taking immunosuppressant drugs for their donor heart,” said Richard Smith, MSEE, CCE, Director of the Artificial Heart Program at University Medical Center and Chief Technical Officer for SynCardia. “The Total Artificial Heart is the only device that replaces the donor heart and eliminates the need for immunosuppressant drugs.”