Lexi, 16

At a Glance:

  • Lexi received her first heart transplant at the age of 10.
  • Six years later, when her donor heart began to fail because of severe cardiac allograft vasculopathy, doctors implanted the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH) to bridge her to a second transplant.
  • Once her condition stabilized, Lexi was switched to the Freedom® Portable Driver and later discharged from the hospital.
  • After 383 days of life with the TAH, Lexi received her second heart transplant.

By the age of 16, Lexi had experienced more health issues than most people do in a lifetime. She received her first heart transplant in 2007 when she was only 10 years old. Six years later, in May 2013, Lexi was admitted to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital with severe cardiac allograft vasculopathy, an accelerated form of coronary artery disease that is a long-term complication of heart transplantation.

Lexi’s doctors put her on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) to support her failing heart and lungs, but her condition worsened and she began experiencing multi-organ dysfunction.

On June 3, 2013, doctors made the decision to implant the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH) to save Lexi’s life and help bridge her to a second transplant. The SynCardia TAH, which provides immediate, safe blood flow of up to 9.5 liters per minute, helped stabilize Lexi’s condition and restored the function of her vital organs.

Lexi was discharged from the hospital to wait for a matching donor heart at home two days before her 17th birthday.

I feel like my normal self. There’s nothing bad about [the TAH]. You got life.

Lexi

Youngest Patient Discharged Home

That December, Lexi was switched to the Freedom® Portable Driver, a smaller, lighter pump for the TAH, which gave her increased mobility. Lexi carried the Freedom Driver in the Shoulder Bag, but it also can be worn in the Backpack.

Four months later, Lexi made history when she became the youngest SynCardia TAH patient to be discharged from the hospital to wait for a matching donor heart home. She left the hospital just in time to celebrate her 17th birthday with her family and friends at home.

“With the SynCardia Heart, Lexi’s other organs have completely recovered,” said Dr. Mark Bleiweis, MD, director and principal cardiothoracic surgeon for the UF Health Congenital Heart Center, at the time. “She’s now an excellent candidate for a heart transplant.”

After leaving the hospital, Lexi said she was looking forward to shopping, going to the movies, dining out and getting her nails done.

Happily, after 383 days of TAH support, Lexi received her second heart transplant.