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West Virginia Man Gets Artificial Heart

May 1, 1986

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ A machinist and father of three, who was waiting for a human heart transplant, underwent emergency surgery today to receive a Jarvik-7 artificial heart, officials said.

George Howard Nicholas, 42, of Elkview, W.Va., was taken into surgery at 9 a.m. today, and the operation was expected to continue into early afternoon, said Presbyterian-University Hospital spokesman Thomas Chakurda.

It is the fourth time the Jarvik-7 has been implanted at the Pittsburgh hospital. Two of the three other recipients are still alive, Chakurda said.

Nicholas suffered from cardiomyopathy, a degenerative disease of the heart muscle. He was transferred from Charleston, W.Va., Memorial Hospital on April 11 to await a heart transplant, but his condition seriously worsened Wednesday, Chakurda said.

″His medical team determined that the implant of the Jarvik-7 would be the only medical option available to sustain life,″ Chakurda said. A human heart transplant will be sought later to replace the Jarvik-7.

Transplant surgeon Dr. Bartley Griffith led the team performing the implant, Chakurda said.

The hospital’s two other surviving Jarvik-7 implant patients are Thomas Gaidosh, 47, of Suttersville, who received his artificial heart on Oct. 24, and a human heart transplant on Oct. 28; and Joseph Burello, 39, of New Alexandria, who received his artificial heart Feb. 7 and a human heart transplant Feb. 15.

The hospital’s third artificial heart recipient, Gary Blake, 43, of East Liverpool, Ohio, received a Jarvik-7 implant March 22 and died April 11.

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