Nalexia "Lexi" Henderson received a successful heart transplant on June 21, 2014. She was on the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart for 383 days.
Florida Teen, 16, Youngest SynCardia Total Artificial Heart Patient Discharged On the Freedom Portable Driver
Lexi Henderson is the First Florida Patient to Receive the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart & the Youngest Patient Discharged on the Freedom Portable Driver so She Can Wait for Her Matching Donor Heart Away from the Hospital.
TUCSON, Ariz. – May 27, 2014 – Nalexia “Lexi” Henderson made history when she was discharged from University of Florida (UF) Health Shands Children’s Hospital April 18, 2014, two days before her 17th birthday.
The Sanford resident is the first person in Florida to receive the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart. Lexi also is the youngest patient in the world to be discharged from the hospital on the Freedom® portable driver so she can wait for her matching donor heart away the hospital.
Lexi received her first donor human heart in 2007 when she was only 10 years old. Years later, Lexi’s donor heart was failing from severe cardiac allograft vasculopathy in which the heart is severely weakened and unable to pump enough blood. It’s a risk factor for heart transplant patients and it forced Lexi to be admitted to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital in mid-May 2013.
Her doctors put her on ECMO (extra corporeal membrane oxygenation) to support her failing heart and lung functions, but her condition worsened and she began experiencing multi-organ dysfunction.
On June 3, 2013, doctors implanted the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart as a bridge to transplant to a matching donor heart because it could pump more blood through Lexi’s body than any other device. The SynCardia Heart provides immediate, safe blood flow of up to 9.5 liters per minute through each ventricle, more than what’s typically pumped through the body by a healthy human heart. The increased blood flow helped stabilize Lexi’s condition and restored the function of her vital organs.
“With the SynCardia Heart, Lexi’s other organs have completely recovered,” says Dr. Mark Bleiweis, M.D., director and principal cardiothoracic surgeon for the UF Health Congenital Heart Center. “She’s now an excellent candidate for a heart transplant.”
On Dec. 9, 2013, the hospital switched Lexi from a 418-pound hospital driver to the Freedom portable driver, which gives her nearly unlimited mobility. Lexi carries the 13.5-pound driver in a shoulder bag, but it also can be worn in a backpack.
Clinically stable SynCardia Total Artificial Heart patients can be discharged from the hospital with the Freedom portable driver to the comfort of their own home and community. There, they can exercise, eat homemade meals and socialize in their community. This helps make them stronger and helps contribute to better transplant outcomes. More than 175 patients have used the Freedom portable driver for over 100 patient years of support.
As she waits for a donor heart, Lexi hopes to spend the time shopping, going to the movies, dining out and getting her nails done. She’ll also have the opportunity to exercise and become stronger. “I feel like my normal self,” she says. “There’s nothing bad about the SynCardia (Heart). You got 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 SynCardia 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