UPDATE ON ARTIFICIAL HEART PATIENT
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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