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Tucson Heart Pump Patient Suffers Strokes

September 05, 1985|United Press International

TUCSON — Artificial heart patient Michael Drummond today suffered several small strokes, slurring his speech, and his surgeons decided to go ahead with a replacement heart transplant as soon as one becomes available.

Dr. Jack G. Copeland, University of Arizona Medical Center heart surgeon, said the 25-year-old assistant supermarket manager from Cottonwood, Ariz., the world's youngest artificial heart recipient, probably would not suffer any permanent damage as a result of the tiny strokes.

Copeland said the clotting developed because Drummond's liver function had improved. He said doctors simply "got behind" on giving the patient the anticoagulant heparin and decided to increase the dosage.

Nationwide Search

Drummond's condition was listed by Copeland as "critical and unstable." The doctor said the urgency for a heart transplant was to head off any further medical problems from use of the Jarvik-7 polyurethane-and-aluminum heart.

Copeland said the hospital had begun a nationwide search to locate a donor heart of blood type A or type O.

After the clotting occurred, a neurologist reported that Drummond was showing "subtle abnormalities," the surgeon said.

He said the speech problems included inability to complete sentences or to think of words. He said Drummond also experienced weakness in his right hand. The difficulties were not continual but intermittent, he said.

Brain Scan Good

Copeland said the strokes were mild ones and apparently did not affect any major motor functions. A sophisticated brain scan was done with good results, he said.

Copeland said he hoped that the transplant could be accomplished today or Friday, and "the sooner the better."

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