The third man to receive an experimental artificial heart made his first public appearance, three-and-a-half months after getting the device. Bobby Harrison appeared at a news conference with members of his surgical team from the Texas Heart Institute, where he underwent surgery on September 26, 2001.
The AbioCor heart is a battery-powered plastic-and-titanium device that's completely implanted into the patient. Its internal battery is continually recharged by an external battery pack a patient wears at his waist. Harrison is one of six patients who have received the AbioCor as part of a clinical trial of the device. In order to be eligible, patients must have severe heart failure with an 80-percent chance of dying within a month, and have no other treatment options.
The first man to get the implant, 59-year-old Robert Tools, survived almost five months with it. He died November 30 from severe abdominal bleeding and organ failure, which doctors said was not related to the performance of the artificial heart. The fourth person to get the implant, an unidentified 74-year-old man, died after 56 days with the device. The sixth patient died in surgery to implant the heart. Four additional implants have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration but have not been carried out yet.