HOUSTON (AP) _ A man suffering from chronic heart failure died from severe bleeding during surgery to implant a self-contained mechanical heart, doctors said.

The surgical team performing the procedure at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital on Tuesday spent 20 hours trying to control the bleeding. The man's name was not released.

The heart device performed well during the surgery, officials said Wednesday.

The revolutionary AbioCor, a battery-run, plastic-and-titanium device the size of a softball, has been implanted in five patients since July. All have done well, though the first recipient suffered a stroke earlier this month.

Dr. O.H. Frazier, who led the surgical team, said the bleeding was related to the patient's previous cardiac surgery and heart failure, which required blood thinning treatment and other medications.

The patient was not a candidate for a heart transplant, said Frazier, the chief of cardiopulmonary transplantation at the Texas Heart Institute.

``He was a man of courage, well-liked and committed to participating in this clinical trial,'' Frazier said. ``Those of us who have come to know this person are truly saddened by this loss.''

He was the first of a second group of five patients who will be implanted with the artificial heart during a clinical trial of the device by its manufacturer, Abiomed.

The company hopes the device will be on the market in 2003.

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On the Net:

Hospital: http://www.sleh.com/sleh

Abiomed: http://www.abiomed.com