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March 7, 1996
Penn State Heart Implanted in Sunbury Man

Hershey, Pa., -- A specialized artificial organs team implanted the Penn State Heart in a 49-year old Sunbury man on March 6 at Penn State's University Hospital at The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. The surgery, performed in a three-hour long procedure, was completed by 11a.m.

The patient is in critical but stable condition the day following his surgery. According to William S. Pierce, M.D., "the family and his doctors are delighted with his progress to date." Drs. Pierce and Walter E. Pae, Jr., M.D. cardiothoracic surgeons, headed the implant team that consisted of doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, perfusionists, engineers and other technical staff.

The Penn State Heart is a pneumatic, or air-driven, total artificial heart. It is used as a temporary device, or "bridge," until a donor heart is available for transplant.

The patient, in shock from major heart failure, was transferred to University hospital from a community hospital. He was put on multiple drug therapy, and an aortic balloon pump was inserted to support his circulation. Studies showed, however, that his heart had been permanently damaged from coronary artery disease and that an assist device would not be sufficient to meet his needs.

The artificial heart has a separate left and right ventricle, each consisting of a flexible blood sac made of a segmented polyurethane, Biomer, with a housing in which air is introduced and withdrawn in pulses. Tilting disc valves at inlet and outflow ports direct the blood flow.

The Penn State heart's blood sac is completely seam-free to prevent stagnation of blood and reduce the risk of clotting. The heart is electronically controlled to provide an increase or decrease in blood flow according to patient need or cardiovascular demand.

The system is designed so that the left heart produces adequate output to maintain a normal blood pressure. The right heart's output is also automatically regulated to match that of the left. Both right and felt atria (the natural blood reservoirs located above the heart) receive blood according to the patient's cardiovascular needs without need for manual control. In this way, the Penn State heart operates on the principal of supply and demand, much like a natural heart.

The device, a bridge to transplantation, has been used only four times before. The patient is now enrolled in the medical Center's transplant program. Currently there are six other individuals at University hospitals awaiting a heart transplant.

**Artificial Heart**

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