55-year-old Richard French is feeling really good these days. It's been two and half years since he suffered a massive heart attack. "They told me there was very little possibility of recovering any normal heart function and I would need a heart transplant."
Doctors didn't know how long the wait would be for a new heart, so surgeons at Montefiore Medical Center implanted an experimental device that kept his heart pumping. "To be able to go back to work, to um, engage in normal every day activities as opposed to being in the hospital waiting for the transplant..."
The heartware device is implanted in the left ventricle of the heart. It sucks blood into the aorta and replaces the pumping function of the heart. It's connected to a tube that exits through the abdomen and hooks into a battery. It looks like a fanny pack attached to a neck strap. "It's a machine that takes over the function of the sick injured left ventricle and takes over it's function and pumps blood out into the body which the sick ventricle can no longer do," says Dr. Daniel Goldstein."
A FDA panel voted this week to recommend the device for approval despite some safety concerns saying the benefits outweigh the risks for critical patients.
French had no complications with his HeartWare device. He had it for almost a year before he got a new heart. "I couldn't have been more fortunate or grateful for somebody's loss being my gain if you will."
With his new heart working well for more than a year, he hopes the experimental device that got him here will soon be available to other patients.