Tiernee’s Story

At only 19 years old, Tiernee had battled two diseases for most of her young life: heart failure and kidney failure. When she became the first patient at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to receive the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH), her doctors hoped it would bring her one step closer to winning her battle against end-stage heart failure. But they didn’t expect that it would also help save her remaining kidney.

As a young girl, Tiernee suffered from a form of kidney cancer called renal cell carcinoma. In addition to having one of her kidneys removed, she had to undergo chemotherapy, which weakened her heart. In August 2006, the summer before she started eighth grade, Tiernee received a heart transplant.

However, over the next few years, Tiernee’s body rejected her donor heart and her health began to deteriorate. She progressed to end-stage kidney (renal) failure and was looking at needing dialysis for the rest of her life. Doctors didn’t think she would survive the wait for another heart transplant, so they decided to implant the SynCardia TAH.

“I was nervous at first, obviously,” said Tiernee. “After I got over the initial shock, I just kind of thought, ‘OK… They’re going to put this device in me and I’m not going to have a heart. It’s going to be mechanical.’”

After receiving the SynCardia TAH, Tiernee was shocked at the immediate improvement.