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IU Health implants Indiana’s first SynCardia Total Artificial Heart

| Indianapolis(June 28, 2013) – This week, surgeons at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital implanted the state’s first Syncardia Total Artificial Heart into a patient – a medical milestone that creates new possibilities for Hoosiers with severe heart failure.

Used only as a last resort when other medications and treatments fail, the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart is a mechanical device that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to serve as a temporary “bridge to transplant” for patients with end-stage failure of both sides of the heart. The technology is designed to replace the complete functions of a healthy human heart’s ventricles and valves so individuals with severely weakened hearts can regain their strength and stay alive until an actual human donor heart becomes available.

MULTI-MEDIA ALERT: Click here to view an animation of the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart

Until now, patients using previous versions of the total artificial heart technology had to wait for their human donor hearts while confined to their hospital rooms because their mechanical heart implants had to be connected to a large, 400-pound, washing machine-sized pump. Since undergoing a “makeover”, this life-sustaining technology has taken a new form that is far more practical and petite.

Now, a patient’s mechanical heart implant can be connected to the Freedom® driver, a portable pump which can be carried in a special over-the-shoulder backpack that weighs approximately 14 pounds. The pump – which comes with a built-in motor, heart monitor and rechargeable batteries – makes a clicking sound as it pushes air through tubes to circulate blood through the patient’s mechanical heart implant.

“Now that this technology is portable, lightweight and easy-to-carry, patients have the flexibility to leave the hospital and wait for their human donor hearts while at home or on the move,” said I-wen Wang, M.D., Ph.D, a cardiothoracic surgeon at IU Health Methodist Hospital and an associate professor of clinical surgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine who specializes in performing heart and lung transplants.

“Studies also show that because the total artificial heart and portable pump have helped patients remain active, regain strength and improve organ function, survival rates have doubled for some once they received a human heart transplant,” said Wang.

IU Health Methodist Hospital acquired the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart thanks to a $250,000 grant from Methodist Health Foundation. The device has been implanted in more than 1,100 patients worldwide and the portable Freedom® driver, which is currently limited to investigational use in the U.S., has been used in more than 100 patients. Both devices are manufactured by SynCardia Systems, Inc., a medical device manufacturer based in Tucson, Arizona.

By performing Indiana’s first implantation of the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart, IU Health continues to build upon its history of advances and innovation in cardiac surgery to benefit patients throughout the state and region. In 1982, surgeons at IU Health Methodist Hospital performed Indiana’s first human heart transplant. The hospital then implanted the state’s first ventricular assist device in 1985 and the first total artificial heart in 1987.

About Indiana University Health
Named among the “Best Hospitals in America” by U.S. News & World Report for 15 consecutive years, Indiana University Health is dedicated to providing a unified standard of preeminent, patient-centered care. A unique partnership with Indiana University School of Medicine – one of the nation’s leading medical schools – gives our highly skilled physicians access to innovative treatments using the latest research and technology.

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