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Artificial Heart Patient Gets Human Heart

June 22, 1986

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ A man who was kept alive for eight days with an artificial heart received a new human organ Saturday, hospital officials said.

Edmund McDermott, 32, of Scranton had been given the Jarvik-7 artificial heart June 13 after his condition deteriorated to the point at which physicians at Presbyterian-University Hospital felt he could no longer wait for a human donor, said hospital spokesman Tom Chakurda.

The surgery, which began late Saturday afternoon, took about 6 1/2 hours, officials said. McDermott was listed in critical condition after the surgery, said another spokesman, Don Payer.

There was no immediate comment from the team of surgeons led by transplant specialist Dr. Bartley Griffith, Payer said.

″There were no problems that we’ve heard of, at least,″ Payer said.

The first 72 hours after the operation are most critical in the patient’s recovery, Payer said, adding that it is normal for patients to be listed as critical after transplant surgery.

Chakurda said it was hospital policy to withhold information about the donor. ″All I can say is a donor was located early today (Saturday),″ he said.

McDermott and his late twin brother, Edward, were both diagnosed in 1979 as having cardiomyopathy, a disease that causes degeneration of the heart muscle, according to their mother, Mrs. Paul McDermott of Scranton.

When Edward’s condition worsened, he went to Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City to await a heart transplant, but weakened to the point his doctors felt he could not withstand the transplant.

He died in June 1979, she said. Artificial heart implants were not performed until 1982.

Edmund McDermott has been unemployed since his doctors advised him not to work seven years ago. He and his wife, Kathleen, are expecting their first child, his mother said.

McDermott is attending school in the hope of earning a degree in business, Chakurda said. His family asked that no other information be released.

McDermott was the fifth person to receive a Jarvik-7 device at Presbyterian-U niversity. Three of the previous four Jarvik-7 patients are still alive after receiving human hearts, Chakurda said.

Hospital officials say it is hospital policy to use the Jarvik-7 only as a temporary, life-saving measure until a suitable human donor heart is found.

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