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Drs.: Heart Recipient Suffer Setback

November 14, 2001

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ Doctors for the first recipient of a self-contained artificial heart say their patient suffered a major setback.

In a statement from Jewish Hospital, doctors said Tuesday that Robert Tools’ right side became weak. The hospital did not provide more details.

Dr. Laman Gray told The New York Times that Tools suffered a stroke. Gray did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

Gray and Dr. Robert Dowling, the surgeons who implanted the plastic-and-titanium AbioCor on July 2, planned to give more information about Tools’ condition at a news conference Wednesday.

Dowling, reached at home Tuesday, declined to comment.

Last week, Tools was feeling well enough for an outing with the Louisville mayor to promote dining out. A fishing trip scheduled for the next day was canceled, but Tools’ health was not cited as the reason.

Gray, who attended the restaurant trip, said Tools had made ``fabulous progress.″

Before receiving the artificial heart, Tools was suffering from congestive heart failure, diabetes and kidney disease. He was given little chance of surviving 30 days without the operation.

In the early days after the surgery, doctors were cautious and said complications were possible. Four others have since received the self-contained artificial heart.

In Philadelphia, the fifth person to have the surgery is breathing better, though still on a ventilator, and is doing light exercise in his hospital bed, his surgeon said Wednesday.

The man, whose name was not being released, ``is fully awake and recognizes family and friends,″ said Dr. Louis E. Samuels, associate professor at MCP Hahnemann University and director of the transplant team that performed the operation Nov. 5.

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On the Net:

Jewish Hospital: http://www.jhhs.org

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