More artificial-heart transplants expected

Monday, September 10, 2001

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The company that developed a self-contained artificial heart hopes to have 15 implanted by the middle of next year, according to a spokesman.

"Quite frankly, if things continue to go as well as they've gone for the first patient, those time frames are going to be very easy to achieve," Ed Berger, a spokesman for Abiomed Inc., told The Courier-Journal of Louisville for Sunday's editions.

Robert Tools of Franklin became the first recipient of a plastic and titanium Abiocor heart in a July 2 operation.

at Jewish Hospital in Louisville. Tools was removed from the intensive care unit last week.

No other patients have received an artificial heart, but five or six patients are being screened at the hospital each week, said Dr. Laman Gray, one of Tools' surgeons.

Jewish Hospital is one of five medical centers across the country prepared to perform the experimental surgery.

As part of the patient screening, a scan of a potential patient's chest is sent to Danvers, Mass.-based Abiomed, which has devised a computer program to predict whether the heart will fit.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the experimental device for use in five patients 18 or older -- all dying of failure of both sides of their hearts and all ineligible for transplants because they are so sick.

The company would be able to proceed with five more operations if the initial five are successful. If those five go well, the company could have five more operations done before the middle of 2002, Berger said.

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