At a Glance:
Jordan, 17, was born with multiple congenital heart defects, including congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries (CCTGA), in which the two ventricles and their attached valves are reversed; pulmonary atresia, in which the valve that controls blood flow from the heart to the lungs doesn’t form at all; and a ventricular septal defect (VSD), a hole in the wall separating the two lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart.
As an infant, Jordan had an ascending aorta-to-main pulmonary artery shunt and an epicardial pacemaker placed. As he grew older, he underwent several surgical revisions and implantation of a defibrillator. But by September 2010, Jordan’s heart had begun to fail, and he was placed on the waiting list for a heart transplant.
In April 2011, Jordan was admitted to Texas Children’s Hospital with heart failure symptoms and kidney insufficiency. Over the course of the following weeks, he was in and out of the cardiovascular intensive care unit. In May, his condition became dire when all of his organs began to fail and he was placed on a ventilator. To save his life, doctors implanted the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH).
“Jordan was waiting for a donor heart, but both ventricles and two of his valves were failing, and we were running out of time,” said Jordan’s surgeon, Dr. David L.S. Morales. “The Total Artificial Heart, which was immediately available when this patient needed it most, could take care of all of these problems with one operation.”
Jordan’s case posed a challenge given his unusual heart structure. When the SynCardia TAH is implanted in a patient with a normally-structured heart, the right and left ventricles are crossed. To adapt to the structural defects of Jordan’s heart, Dr. Morales modified the TAH implant technique so that the right and left ventricles were implanted in parallel instead.
Texas Children’s performed its first implant of the SynCardia TAH in order to save Jordan’s life.
Prior to being hospitalized, Jordan had been looking forward to his prom, his 18th birthday and his high school graduation. He did miss his prom while in the hospital, but thanks to his medical team and the SynCardia TAH, he celebrated his 18th birthday just a week after his surgery. Jordan was also able to watch his graduation ceremony online, during which his class gave him a standing ovation when his 16-year-old sister accepted his diploma on his behalf.
Three months after the implant surgery, Jordan was stable enough to be discharged home using the Freedom® Portable Driver, becoming the first teenager in the U.S. to do so.
“It was a really good feeling getting to go home again,” said Jordan. “I’d go on little walks and go fishing with my friends. My sisters and my brother were really happy that I was back and that Mom and Dad were home so they weren’t alone all the time.”
“Having Jordan home again is the best gift in the world,” said Suzanne, Jordan’s mother. “The artificial heart was a blessing when he needed it desperately, and his father and I are glad that Texas Children’s could offer a life-saving option when things looked very grim. He still has a heart transplant in his future, but the artificial heart has helped him grow stronger. He will be ready when the time comes.”
The time for Jordan did come, and he received a heart transplant after 160 days of life with the TAH. Less than two days after the transplant surgery, his spirits high, Jordan masqueraded as his surgeon for Halloween.
“Jordan was a little more than 24 hours out of a 12-hour surgery and he’s the one cracking jokes,” said Dr. Morales.