The Implantable Artificial Heart Project
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The AbioCor Replacement Heart
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Laman A. Gray, Jr., M.D.
Robert D. Dowling, M.D.

News Releases

September 19, 2001
Linda McGinity Jackson,
Kathy Keadle,


Christerson family makes first public statement since September 13

(LOUISVILLE, Ky) - The University of Louisville surgeons who implanted the world's first and second AbioCor totally implantable replacement hearts at Jewish Hospital July 2 and September 13, announced today that both patients continue to recover from their respective surgeries. Drs. Laman Gray and Rob Dowling report that they are pleased with the progress Bob Tools and Tom Christerson are making.

ROBERT (BOB) TOOLS, 59, Franklin, Kentucky

The world's first AbioCor patient, Bob Tools, continues to undergo daily physical rehabilitation at Frazier Rehab Institute, takes daily walks in and around the hospital, and visits with family and staff. "He's still adjusting to his new surroundings," Gray said after Mr. Tools moved out of the intensive care unit (ICU) to a transitional monitoring unit (TMU). "But we are encouraged by his improving strength and mobility."

TOM CHRISTERSON, 70, Central City, Kentucky

Just days after receiving his artificial heart, Tom Christerson is breathing well without ventilator support, spending time each day sitting in a chair and taking short walks outside his room. "His kidney function is improving dramatically, and he seems ready to tackle his recovery head-on," Dowling explained.

Both doctors continue to stress the experimental nature of the implants, and anticipate "ups and downs" for both patients. "Overall," Gray concluded, "we are very pleased by the progress these gentlemen have made so far. They are definitely fighters."

Tom Christerson's family has released a statement in response to media coverage of his life and surgery: "We're thankful to the doctors and nurses at Jewish Hospital and the University of Louisville and the engineering team from ABIOMED. We're cautiously optimistic as we know there is a long recovery ahead. We'd like to thank friends and family that have been praying for us. All comments will be handled through the communications team from Jewish Hospital and the University of Louisville. We will not be making further public comment at this time, and we ask that members of the media respect our privacy."

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