Heart Failure Patient Sleeps Better Knowing He has the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart
As his heart disease worsened, Californian Steve Williams feared he would die in his sleep. He feels much better and more relaxed now that he’s home with his SynCardia Total Artificial Heart powered by the Freedom portable driver.
TUCSON, Ariz. – Jan 13, 2015 – Before Steve Williams received the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart implant to eliminate his end-stage biventricular heart failure, he was afraid to go to sleep because he feared he would never wake up.
Now back at his Huntington Beach, California, home with the Freedom® portable driver that powers his SynCardia Total Artificial Heart, Williams says he’s sleeping better than he has in months.
Steve Williams, 53, a key account manager for Motorola Solutions, is conscientious about his heart health. High cholesterol and heart disease run in his family. His mother has a pacemaker and his nephew had a heart transplant four years ago. Since 1996 he regularly sees a cardiologist and took medication to control his cholesterol.
In 2005 he was diagnosed with left ventricular hypertrophy (enlargement of the left ventricle wall) and cardiomyopathy (weakening of the heart muscle). As the conditions worsened, Williams, a former athlete, had trouble breathing. He had to stop to catch his breath while getting to connecting flights on his sales trips. He gradually gave up tennis, then surfing, then golf.
His lungs constantly filled with fluid. “I went to the hospital several times early in 2014,” says Williams. “Because I couldn’t breathe, I was afraid that if I went to sleep, I wouldn’t wake up.”
It was during one of those hospital stays, March 31, 2014, when Williams suffered sudden cardiac arrest and fell into a coma. “The hospital called my wife and told her, ‘You may want to come and say good-bye to him,’” he says.
Doctors used therapeutic hyperthermia, reducing Williams’ body temperature some five degrees, in order to minimize any brain injury from the heart attack. He revived April 3 and two days later he was taken by ambulance to Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute more than an hour away.
Williams already had several visits with a cardiologist at the Los Angeles hospital as part of his efforts to stay ahead of the effects of heart disease. Now he would depend on surgeons to save his life.
Tests showed that a left ventricle assist device (LVAD) would not be adequate because Williams’ right ventricle was also failing. With no matching donor heart immediately available, he accepted surgeons’ recommendation to have the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart, which they implanted April 17, 2014.
Like a heart transplant, the SynCardia Heart eliminates the source of end-stage biventricular heart failure in which the two heart ventricles can no longer pump enough blood for the patient to survive. It is approved as a bridge to a donor heart transplant.
Williams felt he had to do what was necessary to get himself to a matching donor heart transplant. “I knew the end point was worth getting to,” says Williams. “The journey didn’t scare me.”
After he became clinically stable, Williams received the 13.5-pound Freedom portable driver May 13, 2014. The Freedom portable driver powers the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart while providing patients with nearly unlimited mobility. It can be worn in a backpack, carried in a shoulder bag or wheeled on a cart.
Williams was discharged from the hospital May 22, 2014. He says he was happy to get back to his own bed. “Near the end of my hospital stay I got cranky because I couldn’t sleep,” he explains. “When I got home, I could sleep because (hospital staff) weren’t poking me. I love that.”
As he awaits his matching donor heart, Williams walks several miles a day, visits the beach, goes shopping and spends more time with his 18-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter.
“It’s nice to be home with my family,” he says. “It is a blessing to see my kids every day. I’m looking forward to getting my donor heart transplant.”
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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