42 year old Greg Rathe underwent the life saving procedure earlier this month
Greg Rathe received his first heart transplant 16 years ago after a sudden onset of cardiomyopathy, the weakening of the heart muscles. Early this year, his symptoms returned.
"I felt weak and couldn’t breathe," Rathe said. "When I got here to the med center, they said I’d need a new heart."
"His condition deteriorated very quickly," said Mike Moulton, MD, chief of cardiothoracic surgery and heart transplant surgeon at The Nebraska Medical Center.
Rathe lost consciousness the second week in March. His donated heart was failing.
"We knew if we didn’t move forward with the total artificial heart Greg would not survive," said John Um, MD, surgical director of cardiac transplantation.
Drs. Moulton and Um implanted the Total Artificial Heart March 14."I woke up and it was all done," Rathe said.
The Total Artificial Heart is not a permanent solution. It is a "bridge to transplant" meaning it can allow a patient to regain their strength until a suitable donor heart is found.
It provides high volume blood flow of up to 9.5 liters per minute through each ventricle, which helps speed the recovery of the patient’s organs, making them a better candidate for heart transplant.
Doctors expect Rathe to have his artificial heart for one to six months.
Photos courtesy of Nebraska Medical Center