Man With Two Hearts Goes Home
ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Noah Heinrichs left the hospital with a cart full of cards and get-well presents and a new heart beating alongside his own.
″I sure am glad to go home,″ Heinrich said Wednesday in his room at St. Louis University Hospital. ″I still feel a little weak, but I feel sure everything is bound to work out all right. I’ve got faith.″
Wednesday’s homecoming was especially sweet because it was also Heinrichs’ 23rd wedding anniversary. His wife Julia said: ″We didn’t think he’d live to see this - but he did. I think he will have a good chance for a long life - maybe even another 23 years.″
Heinrichs, 44, of St. Louis, underwent a ″piggyback″ transplant Oct. 11. Doctors gave him a donor heart while keeping his own in place. The two-heart arrangement is intended to be permanent, they said, with the new heart gradually taking over the functions of his original heart.
The operation has been done elsewhere in the United States and in South Africa and Great Britain, and Mrs. Heinrichs said that until doctors explained it, she and her husband had never heard of it.
″It was really hard on both of us to comprehend that he would have two hearts,″ she said. ″It made us more nervous because he would be the first in the St. Louis area.″
Heinrichs said he felt much better since the operation, and that it didn’t feel odd to have two hearts.
Three years ago, Noah Heinrichs suffered two major heart attacks 20 days apart, his wife said. He was forced to quit work six months ago as a supervisor for Warner-Jerkinson Co., where he had worked for 20 years.
Because Heinrichs suffered from severe high blood pressure, a standard heart transplant would have put too much strain on the new heart. Doctors say a transplanted heart probably would have failed without the support of his own.
Mrs. Heinrichs said her goal was to help her husband ″get back on his feet and hopefully back to work, but we’re not going to rush that. I just want him to get well.″