Artificial Heart Transplant: Bridge to a Donor


DALLAS, Texas. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — More than 3,000 people are on the waiting list for a heart transplant on any given day. Only 2,200 donor hearts are available each year.  For a few critically ill heart patients, the total artificial heart is their best chance for survival.

Fifty-two-year-old Bryan Tyo listens to his donor heart and smiles. Less than a year ago, he had a massive heart attack while exercising. His heart was beyond repair, but he was a good candidate for a total artificial heart, a procedure used fewer than 50 times a year as a bridge to a heart transplant.

Bryan told Ivanhoe, “Not only bought me the time, but probably saved my life, the technology did.”

Bryan’s wife, Risa, detailed, “They didn’t have another option other than take out his heart, put in an artificial heart and then as soon as he got strong enough do a donor (heart), so definitely a breakthrough.”

Shelley Hall, M.D., Chief of Transplant Cardiology at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, explained, “You’re essentially removing both pumping chambers of the heart, the right ventricle and the left ventricle and replacing it with this machine that is attached to the remaining top chambers of the heart.” (Read Full Interview)

Bryan waited six weeks for a donor heart, carrying his artificial heart around in a battery powered backpack.

“The waiting was the hardest part, and the reason for that is in order for me to get a heart, someone else was going to lose their life, and that was hard,” said Bryan.

Bryan waited six weeks and finally, he got the call that a donor heart was available. The transplant operation was a success.

“How do you qualify the significance of a life? For him it was everything. For his wife, it was everything. For our team it was everything,” Dr. Hall told Ivanhoe.

“It’s the gift of life, organ donation is,” said Bryan.

The total artificial heart is FDA approved only as a bridge to heart transplant, not as a permanent replacement for a failing organ.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Don Wall, Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Mark Montgomery, Videographer.



TOPIC:       Artificial Heart Transplant: Bridge to a Donor

REPORT:   MB #4177


BACKGROUND: Heart disease is a general term for a number of different complications that can arise in the human heart like blood vessel disease, heart rhythm problems, and congential heart defects.  Heart disease may also be used to refer to a cardiovascular disease which involves blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain and even a stroke.  This disease causes other parts of the body to not receive sufficient blood. The symptoms for men and women are different but some of them include: chest pain, shortness of breath, pain and/or numbness in the legs or arms, and pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back. This disease may not be diagnosed until the patient suffers a heart attack, stroke or heart failure.

TREATMENTS: The treatments for heart disease vary by the condition and severity of the patient’s symptoms. The treatments that are available to treat heart disease are: lifestyle changes, medications, or a heart procedure like a heart transplant. If the heart disease is very severe a heart transplant may be necessary. A heart transplant procedure consists of taking a healthy heart from a donor who is brain-dead but still on life support, and placing it in the patient; however, finding a matching donor can be difficult. The tissue in the donor heart must match as closely as possible to the tissue of the patient who needs it in order to reduce the chance of the body rejecting this new heart. About 3,100 people in the U.S. are on the waiting list to receive a heart, but only 2,200 donor hearts are available each year.
(Source: &

NEW TECHNOLOGY: A new option has become available for patients who are very ill and in need of a transplant but haven’t found their heart donor match just yet. This new option is receiving an FDA approved artificial heart. This procedure is performed fewer than 200 times a year worldwide and it acts as a bridge to receiving a heart transplant. This artificial heart is not the permanent replacement for the failing organ; its life span varies between one and two years. This new treatment consists of removing both pumping chambers of the heart, the right ventricle and the left ventricle, and replacing it with this machine by attaching it to the remaining top chambers of the heart, allowing blood to circulate in the body of the patient.
(Source: Dr. Shelley Hall)


Susan Hall



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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Shelley Hall, M.D.

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