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Young Man Receives Artificial Heart

Published 03-15-2012 11:15 AM | Mark D. Birdwhistell  

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At such a large institution, we try every day to keep in mind why we're here: To help patients get better.

We celebrated one such occasion recently with a young man from Northern Kentucky, who came to us with a serious health problem.

Zack Poe, a 20-year-old from Maysville, Ky., came to us from St. Elizabeth Hospital in Edgewood, Ky., where Zack was diagnosed with heart failure Jan. 3.

Zack needed a heart transplant. But finding one can take months, even years. In the meantime, our UK doctors told him about a new treatment option - the total artificial heart implant.

Two UK surgeons recently received certification to perform the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart implant. After some discussions with Zack and his understandably nervous parents, doctors performed the surgery Feb. 10.

It was a medical breakthrough for Kentucky. UK is the only location in the state - and one of just 29 in the country - able to perform the procedure.

Zack has made a remarkable recovery. Earlier this month, he went out for sushi with some of his doctors before returning home to Maysville to visit his friends and family. Without the artificial heart implant, Zack and others like him would have to live in the hospital attached to a giant machine until a heart donor was available.

Now, Zack wears a 13.5-pound device that powers the heart implant and makes a pumping noise. Zack said he finds the noise comforting, because he knows it's keeping him alive.

He'll still need a heart transplant, but the implant device will allow Zack to live until that time comes.

You can learn more about Zack's story and view a brief video on our Facebook page.  

Page last updated: 8/6/2013 3:29:15 PM