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

November 30, 2001
Linda McGinity Jackson,
Mary Jennings,
Kathy Keadle,


(Louisville, Ky.) - University of Louisville physicians Laman A. Gray, Jr., MD, and Rob D. Dowling, MD, are deeply saddened to announce the death of Robert Tools. Mr. Tools was the recipient of the world's first totally implantable artificial heart on July 2 at Jewish Hospital. Mr. Tools passed away due to complications that arose after an episode of severe abdominal bleeding.

"Bob became a dear friend to all of us. We will miss Bob's laugh, his sense of humor and his fighting spirit," Dr. Dowling said. "Our sympathy and support go out to his family and to all those who knew and loved Bob. His pioneering spirit will long live on in the fight against heart disease."

Mr. Tools began bleeding on Thursday, November 29, 2001, and he went into multi-organ system failure late Thursday. Mr. Tools developed bleeding in his abdominal area that was due to the continuous anti-coagulation problems that Mr. Tools has had from the onset related to his pre-existing severe and chronic medical condition. Mr. Tools died early Friday afternoon. His death was unrelated to the stroke he suffered on November 11. The deterioration in his condition was not caused by complications or a malfunction of the AbioCor device.

Mr. Tools' determination and will to live helped him make great strides in the weeks following his surgery. Mr. Tools was able to do things that he had not enjoyed in several years. He made frequent trips outside the hospital, including lunches at area restaurants, fishing with his physicians and an evening at a comedy club.

"Mr. Tools and his family members are heroes. Their willingness to be the first to participate in the AbioCor clinical trial could potentially pave the way for a revolutionary treatment option for advanced heart disease," Dr. Dowling said. "Though we are grieving the loss of a true medical pioneer and dear friend, his spirit has emboldened us to continue our fight against heart failure - a disease that is responsible for the deaths of 250,000 people per year in the U.S. alone."

"Bob Tools was an extraordinarily courageous man," said Dr. David M. Lederman, ABIOMED's Chief Executive Officer. "During his nearly five months of life with the AbioCor, an incredibly strong bond developed between Bob and the ABIOMED community, as well as between Bob and the world at large. Everyone who came in contact with him was impressed by his strength of spirit, his wit and intelligence and by the resolve with which he fought to survive. Our most profound respect and our deepest sympathies go out to his wife, Carol, who supported him through years of struggle with heart failure, and to his entire family. We are glad to have known him, and to have helped to provide his wife and family with additional months of Bob's companionship."

"Prior to coming to Jewish Hospital, Bob would have faded away slowly at home. But after our decision to participate in this experimental procedure, he has been able to make a difference for mankind, enjoy some of his favorite things in life, and experience a bit of notoriety - and for Bob, nothing could have been better. Bob and I were able to participate in a lot of fun activities over the past couple of months, more so than in the past few years. He was able to enjoy a better quality of life than we could ever had imagined," said Carol Tools, Bob's wife.

Added his son, Carlin Tools, "My father exhibited great strength and courage, that of a champion, while going through his fight for life. We celebrate his life, lessons and contribution to countless others who may one day benefit from the AbioCor artificial heart."

Mrs. Tools added that she is grateful for the prayers and support they continue to receive from the community.

The physicians and Mr. Tools family will not be available for interviews. They appreciate your continued respect for their privacy.


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