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Mechanical Heart Patient Has Setback

November 14, 2001|Reuters

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The first recipient of a totally implantable replacement heart has suffered a major setback more than three months after his surgery, his doctors said Tuesday.

Dr. Laman Gray, who implanted the AbioCor mechanical heart in 59-year-old Robert Tools on July 2, said the setback "began with the onset of weakness in the right side of his body."

Officials at Jewish Hospital, where two of the groundbreaking surgeries have been performed, said more information about Tools' condition would be disclosed today.

Tools, a diabetic who was near death from heart failure before the surgery, had been reported doing extremely well as recently as a week ago.

When doctors implanted the device in Tools, they had said they hoped to double his expected life span, which had been no more than 30 days. But surgeons later said Tools might live a relatively normal life.

The heart, manufactured by Danvers, Mass.-based Abiomed Inc., had so far avoided the blood clots and threat of infection posed by previous mechanical hearts.

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