LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Doctors announced Thursday that artificial heart recipient William J. Schroeder will not be permitted to attend his son's wedding this weekend.
Implant surgeon William C. DeVries said that despite family objections he had decided it would be too risky for Schroeder to make the 90-mile trip to Jasper, Ind., Saturday for the wedding of his son, Terry Schroeder, and Julie Schnarr.
Schroeder, 53, has been recovering at Humana Hospital Audubon from a series of strokes in December, as well as a flu-like illness that drained his strength in February. He received his Jarvik-7 pump Nov. 25.
"Dr. DeVries' decision is shared by the medical and nursing staff at the hospital. The view of the entire heart team is that Schroeder's medical recovery would be jeopardized by a trip of that magnitude," said Bob Irvine, Humana Inc.'s director of public relations.
Schroeder had said in November that attending the wedding was among his goals for survival. He was fitted for a tuxedo last month, but DeVries had said his decision would be based on Schroeder's condition this week.
The implant team believes it is in Schroeder's "best interest, from a medical standpoint and in terms of his continued recovery, that he not make the trip," Irvine said.
Saturday will mark Schroeder's 112th day on the artificial heart. The first recipient, Barney Clark, died on his 112th day with the device.
Mel Schroeder, the patient's eldest son, conceded the decision was DeVries' to make, but said the Schroeders were unhappy with it.
"The family was unanimous in opposing it. That's all I want to say," he said.
'Cold Water in Face'
Schnarr, in a separate interview, described the decision as "cold water in the face."
"You're telling a man he can't make it to his own son's wedding. I guess I'd be a little upset too," she said.
Schroeder has been out of the hospital twice for wheelchair rides and twice for rides in a customized van, which is equipped with the 323-pound Utahdrive machine that provides puffs of air to power the heart. The trip to Jasper would have been made in the van.
Since the strokes on Dec. 13, which left him with speech and memory problems, Schroeder has been struggling to recover enough to be released from the hospital.