Artificial Heart patient Tom Christerson
marks another milestone
LOUISVILLE, Ky….Tom and Speedy
Christerson celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary with a quiet
dinner at one of their favorite places – home. The couple
said they were happy to be able to celebrate another year of marriage.
Background film of the couple is available by calling
The celebration wouldn’t have been possible
without the surgery Tom Christerson had more than a year ago. During
a landmark surgery at Jewish Hospital on September 13, 2001, University
of Louisville surgeons Laman Gray, M.D., and Rob Dowling, M.D.,
implanted the AbioCor™ Implantable Replacement Heart. Mr.
Christerson was the second person in the world to receive the AbioCor
Replacement Heart, manufactured by ABIOMED, Inc., of Danvers, Mass.
Mr. Christerson was released from Jewish Hospital
and returned to his home in Central City a little more than six
months ago. He is the only AbioCor patient to return to his home.
He 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. Earlier this 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
once a week for check-ups, and works with a physical therapist at
the local hospital.
Recently the Christersons reflected about their marriage
on October 25, 1947. The two met while attending a basketball game
in Louisville. Mr. Christerson said it was love at first sight.
“I just met her and I said that’s the
one for me.”
“My friends were saying I’ll take that
dark-haired one,” Mrs. Christerson added. “And I said
no, he’s mine.”
Throughout the years, “we’ve had our ups
and downs,” Mr. Christerson said. Added his wife: “But
you analyze it and say this is love, and you get through things.”
Both say they don’t regret the decision to have
the surgery to implant the artificial heart. They are happy to be
enjoying another anniversary and look forward to more time together.
“I love you,” Mrs. Christerson said to
her husband. “That’s our good morning and our good night.
That's what we say every morning and every night.”
“I love you, too,” Mr. Christerson added.
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.