Chicago, Sept. 14 (Reuters): For Thomas Christerson, the only person living with a self-contained artificial heart, just “taking it easy” is really living.
“I get up, go to coffee, then I come back and just do whatever,” he said.
“It’s so much easier to live, to breathe,” he added. “I’m living through great things in life.”
Christerson, 71, yesterday celebrated the first anniversary of his new heart. He is the only surviving patient of seven who have had the heart replacement surgery.
The mechanical heart, called AbioCor and 20 years in development by Abiomed Inc. of Danvers, Massachusetts, gave Christerson not only a chest full of titanium and plastic but a new lease on life and a certain place in history. “I might have been dead by now. I would have,” Christerson said in an interview taped last week. “I’m no hero. I just want to live.” Christerson looked healthy and was in good spirits as he celebrated yesterday, eating cake and ice cream with the doctors and nurses at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.
He spent months there recovering after the ground-breaking procedure. The AbioCor heart is battery-operated and must be recharged often, makes a constant whirring sound, weighs four times as much as a normal heart and is the size of a grapefruit. Yet for all of the inconveniences, it has kept Christerson alive for a year.