UK First In State To Implant Total Artificial Heart

UK First In State To Implant Total Artificial Heart

UK is the first in Kentucky to implant a total artificial heart.
     It's helping Zack Poe live.

     "I feel a million times better," says Zack.

     The 20-year-old from Maysville is the state's first patient to receive the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart.  The procedure was performed in February at the University of Kentucky Medical Center. 

     "The operation went really smoothly.  Zack was off the breathing tube the next day and was up and walking around within several days and has had a remarkable recovery," explains UK surgeon Dr. Mark Plunkett.

     Now, Zack is able to speak publicly for the first time since that life-prolonging procedure.

     "I feel better now and I've been able to walk longer without pain than I have in months," comments Zack.

     "If you would've seen him before the 3 weeks ago, that there's no way you would have told me he would be sitting there feeling this good.  So, I'll never be able to thank UK enough," says Zack's father, Tony Poe.

     But,  Zack still needs a new heart.

     "This is basically a bridge to transplantation.  It's not a permanent replacement for him," explains UK surgeon, Dr. Charles Hoopes.

     "People that have to wait for transplants don't have the opportunity to necessarily live until that transplant happens.  They have months and years now while they can wait," says Zack.

     Zack is on a waiting list for a heart donation.  His father is making plea to people in the community to become organ donors, so they can save lives, like his son's.

     "Please everyone, this is also about donors.  This is keeping him alive but we really need to focus more on the donor program," comments Tony.

     Zack hopes he doesn't have to wait too long.  While he does, he jokes that his new artificial heart will comfort him.

     "It actually lulls me to sleep sometimes because I know I was still alive." jokes Zack.

     The University of Kentucky is one of only 29 medical centers in the nation that are certified to perform total artificial heart transplants.  A second UK patient underwent successful Total Artificial Heart implantation last Wednesday. The patient is currently recovering in the hospital and doing well.


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