Nebraska Medical Center Implants State's First SynCardiaTotal Artificial Heart
Greg Rathe, 42, Waits for Second Heart Transplant after Rejecting the Donor Heart He Received 17 Years Ago
TUCSON, Ariz. – April 18, 2013 – SynCardia Systems, Inc., manufacturer of the world's first and only FDA, Health Canada and CE (Europe) approved Total Artificial Heart, announced today that The Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha has performed the state's first implant of the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart to save the life of 42-year-old Greg Rathe and bridge him to a second heart transplant.
“Greg had chronic rejection of his donated heart,” said Mike Moulton, MD, chief of cardiothoracic surgery and heart transplant surgeon at The Nebraska Medical Center. “That process affected both the left and right ventricles. Because his heart had deteriorated to such a degree, a Total Artificial Heart was the only option.”
In 1996, Rathe received a heart transplant after a sudden onset of viral cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart muscle. After 17 years of life with his donor heart, his symptoms returned earlier this year.
“I used to run a frontend loader at a limestone quarry,” said Rathe, who enjoys fishing and welding yard ornaments and toys. “I felt weak and couldn't breathe. When I got here, to the Med Center, they said I’d need a new heart.”
Rathe was listed for a heart transplant in September 2012. According to his doctors, donor hearts have become available twice since then, but neither were a good match for Rathe, whose immune system is overactive due to his first heart transplant.
This March, with his donor heart failing, Rathe’s condition became critical when he lost consciousness and collapsed.
“We knew if we didn’t move forward with the Total Artificial Heart, Greg would not survive,” said John Um, MD, surgical director of cardiac transplantation and mechanical circulatory support at The Nebraska Medical Center.
To save Rathe’s life, on March 14, Drs. Moulton and Um performed the state’s first implant of the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart.
Now that he’s on the road to recovery, Rathe’s hopes for the future are simple: "Help take care of my son. He's only 4. So I can watch him grow up. Go back to work… live a normal life."
About SynCardia Systems, LLC
SynCardia Systems, LLC in Tucson, Ariz., is the privately-held manufacturer of the world's first and only FDA, Health Canada and CE approved Total Artificial Heart. For people suffering from end-stage heart failure affecting both sides of the heart (biventricular failure), the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart is used as a bridge to transplant, helping them survive until a matching donor heart becomes available. SynCardia also manufactures the Freedom® portable driver, which powers the temporary Total Artificial Heart and allows clinically stable patients to be discharged from the hospital to enjoy life at home while they wait for a heart transplant.
Janelle Drumwright, email@example.com, (520) 547-7463