Artificial Heart Patient Passes Away
(Louisville, Ky.) - Surgeons Laman Gray, M.D., and Rob Dowling, M.D., and the Jewish Hospital/University of Louisville/AbioCor team are saddened by the death of Keith Blakeley, the eighth recipient of the AbioCorŪ Implantable Replacement Heart, manufactured by ABIOMED, Inc.
Mr. Blakeley died of multiple organ failure at 5 p.m. April 17, 2003, the eve of his 80th birthday. The six-hour surgery to implant the heart took place January 7. Mr. Blakeley lived with the artificial heart 101 days.
"My thoughts are with the Blakeley family. Mr. Blakeley's contribution was very important to the future of medical science. His strong spirit and humor will be missed," Dr. Gray said.
"Mr. Blakeley's decision to become part of the clinical trial will help generations to come. His wife, children and grandchildren have my utmost respect and sympathy as they mourn their loss," said Dr. Dowling.
Mr. Blakeley was a native of North Star, Ohio, and a World War II U.S. Army veteran. He was retired from Corning Glass, where he worked manufacturing glassware. He is survived by his wife, Joan Blakeley; a son, Ken; daughters Patsy Petit and Brenda Nickol; a daughter-in-law Cathy Blakeley; a son-in-law, Ernie Petit; and grandchildren Logan and Ryan Petit, and Matt and Jeff Blakeley.
Family members said they cherished the additional 101 days they spent with Mr. Blakeley. "He was very upbeat while he recovered at Jewish Hospital and was able to spend some much-valued, quality time with family and friends. We shared some very special moments," Ken Blakeley said.
"All of us want to express our deep gratitude to the Jewish Hospital physicians, nurses and staff. I was astounded by the level of commitment they exhibited and the care they provided for the entire family. It enabled us to have many special moments with my dad," Patsy Petit said.
To be accepted into the AbioCor clinical trial, the FDA requires that patients have a high probability of dying within 30 days. The patients and their families receive extensive education about the technology and the risks involved in participating in the studies. In addition, they meet with an independent patient advocate throughout the process.
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 the world's first heart transplant following the use of a Thoratec bi-ventricular assist device, the world's first endoscopic saphenous vein harvest, the first ventricular remodeling in the region and Kentucky's first heart transplant.