The Implantable Artificial Heart Project
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Laman A. Gray, Jr., M.D.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 8, 2003
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Linda McGinity Jackson,
502-587-4603
Mary Jennings,
502-587-4230
Kathy Keadle,
502-852-7504

UPDATE ON ARTIFICIAL HEART PATIENT TOM CHRISTERSON

Louisville, KY – Tom and Speedy Christerson resurrected some family traditions as they spent the holidays with family and friends. The Christersons looked back on 2002 with fond memories, including their 55th wedding anniversary and the birth of their great-grandchild.

These events are ones Christerson wouldn’t have been able to experience.
When Christerson came to Jewish Hospital in September, 2001, he was not expected to live another 30 days. On September 13, 2001, University of Louisville surgeons Laman Gray, M.D., and Rob Dowling, M.D., performed a landmark surgery at Jewish Hospital, making Christerson the second person in the world to received the AbioCor™ Implantable Replacement Heart, manufactured by ABIOMED, Inc., of Danvers, Mass.

Christerson was released from Jewish Hospital and returned to his home in Central City a in April, 2002. He is the longest surviving AbioCor patient, and the only artificial heart patient to return to his home.

Christerson continues to enjoy spending time with his family and friends. Recently he has been able to do some of the things that were just a memory a year ago. In the fall he spent an afternoon on his boat, the Scooby Doo, at Lake Barkley. And on September 19 and 20, he attended a Busch series race at Memphis Motorsports Park in Tennessee to watch his son, Ken Christerson, who is a member of the pit crew of the Timberwolf car.

Drs. Gray and Dowling say Mr. Christerson continues to do well at home. He still returns to Jewish Hospital in Louisville periodically for check-ups, and works with a physical therapist at Muhlenberg Community Hospital near his home.

Recently the Christersons and Drs. Gray and Dowling talked about the holidays and their hopes for the future.

“Mr. Christerson spent another Christmas with his family. That’s nice for the family, it’s nice for him and he really has been able to have a good quality of life and enjoy himself,” said Dr. Gray. “It’s been gratifying for all of us involved in the program.”

“Tom’s progress continues to impress us. He is doing well, having fun and doing things most men his age would do. I couldn’t be more pleased,” said Dr. Dowling.

Christerson spent a quiet Christmas and New Year’s with family, and enjoyed his friends during a traditional holiday open house held a few days before Christmas.

The open house gave him the opportunity to see friends he hadn’t talk to in some time. “I enjoyed it. I’m trying to make the most of my holidays,” Christerson said.

He continues to be pleased with his artificial heart. “I’ve just done wonderful. I’ve had a wonderful couple of years.”

Ken Christerson said the time with his father has been special, particularly around the holidays. “Naturally, we are glad to have Dad here with us. We treasure even more the times we are together. We’ve always been a close-knit family, and this has brought us that much closer.”

Jewish Hospital is among the premier heart centers in the United States and, along with the University of Louisville, is dedicated to excellence in clinical care, research and education. University of Louisville surgeons at Jewish Hospital have performed many heart care “firsts,” including Kentucky's first heart transplant, the world’s first heart transplant following the use of a Thoratec bi-ventricular assist device, the world’s first endoscopic saphenous vein harvest and the first ventricular remodeling in the region.

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©2001 Jewish Hospital, University of Louisville Health Sciences Center, ABIOMED, Inc.
Jewish Hospital University of Louisville Health Sciences Center