LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ LaVonne ''Jinx'' Burcham, wife of the latest artificial heart patient, said Tuesday the family was apprehensive before the successful surgery to halt the bleeding inside Jack Burcham's chest.

''I was quite scared - again. After it was over, I think we were all very relieved,'' she said. ''And Jack held up real well.''

Burcham, who had lost more than five gallons of blood, was returned to surgery Monday barely 24 hours after getting the Jarvik-7 heart.

When he was wheeled back to his room about two hours later, Mrs. Burcham said she squeezed the hand of her husband of 42 years and, ''I think he knew we were there with him.''

Mrs. Burcham, meeting with reporters for the first time since arriving from Le Roy, Ill., said the final decision to go ahead with the implant itself was made by her husband.

''I don't know if he was scared or not. He didn't realize how sick he was at first,'' she recalled. But when doctors told the 62-year-old retired railroad engineer that he didn't have long to live, ''he was ready to try the heart.''

''If they put it in right, I'll make it work,'' she quoted Burcham as saying.

She said their children - sons Jack, 41, and David, 30, and daughters Vicki Copley, 37, and Connie Pray, 35 - supported him all the way. She and the children, also ''would have been behind him 100 percent if he had decided against the implant,'' she said.

Mrs. Burcham said her husband realizes he won't be able to return to a normal life after he is released from Humana Hospital Audubon.

''But we will have him with us for a lot longer. He loves his family so much, I think that just living and having them so close to him will mean a lot. The important thing is that he be comfortable,'' she said.

She said the families of Audubon's two other implant recipients, William Schroeder and Murray Haydon, have been ''a lot of help to me.''

''Mrs. Haydon will help me more as soon as I get a little less busy,'' she said.

The implants are experimental, but Mrs. Burcham said her husband feels that if ''they help mankind, he will be glad about it.''

Reporters also asked Mrs. Burcham how she acquired the nickname ''Jinx.''

She said it had been given to her years ago by her grandfather. ''It doesn't seem strange to me,'' she added, with a laugh.