Patient Stories

Pat's Story

Born with a condition that had taken the lives of two siblings, Pat faced the daunting reality of his own mortality as his strength waned. Too weak for an LVAD, he found solace in the transformative potential of SynCardia's temporary total artificial heart, holding onto a glimmer of hope in the face of adversity.

When Pat was admitted to Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital, he was facing a dire situation that had become all too familiar for his family. Pat was born with idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis (IHSS), a genetic condition in which there is a thickening of the heart ventricle. The disease had already claimed the life of one of his brothers at the age of 38. In addition, just two months before Pat’s hospitalization, another of his brothers had survived a heart attack, and just a month after his hospitalization, he lost his sister to a heart attack.

When Pat was admitted to the hospital, he couldn’t breathe after any type of exertion. His voice was weak and his fingernails had turned blue. His heart, liver and kidneys began to fail. Doctors told him he only had a few months to live. At the time, he was too weak to receive a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) or to be put on the heart transplant waiting list.

With Pat’s condition rapidly declining, IU Health Methodist cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. I-wen Wang, who specializes in heart and lung transplantation and heart devices, recommended the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH).

Pat agreed to the implant surgery, driven by his desire to watch his grandchildren grow up and to help other people with heart failure. Pat’s TAH implant was the first performed in Indiana.

“Right after the Total Artificial Heart implant, his fingernails had color,” said his daughter Kelly. “The biggest change was the sound of his voice. Before the implant, it didn’t have the energy that it has now.”