Fourth Patient Receives Abiocor Artificial Heart
A fourth patient underwent an eleven-hour procedure to receive a self-contained artificial heart Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reports. The patient, a man in his 70s, received the transplant at UCLA Medical Center -- the first west coast facility to perform the surgery. The Times reports that Abiomed Inc., which manufactures the artificial heart, has been criticized for "withholding information about earlier patients who underwent the implant operation until well after their surgeries were completed." But Abiomed says that their actions were meant to protect patient privacy and "avoid distracting physicians" (Maugh, Los Angeles Times, 10/19). The FDA approved the artificial heart for use in five patients, all dying of heart failure and too ill to qualify for human heart transplants. Under terms of the FDA approval, Abiomed is permitted to proceed with five more operations if the initial five are successful, and then five more after that if things are still going well (California Healthline, 9/14). Hillel Laks, who headed the surgery team at UCLA, said that the surgery "went exceptionally well" (Los Angeles Times, 10/19).