Louisville surgeons say second AbioCor patient
(LOUISVILLE) - University of Louisville
surgeons reported today that Tom Christerson moved out of the
Rudd Heart and Lung Intensive Care Recovery area. Mr. Christerson
will now stay in a "step-down" or telemetry monitoring
unit for cardiac patients at Jewish Hospital.
On Wednesday, Mr. Christerson also
went on an excursion outside the hospital. Accompanied by his
wife, Ouida "Speedy" Christerson, he took a van tour
of downtown Louisville.
Dr. Laman Gray and Dr. Rob Dowling
reported that Mr. Christerson is gaining strength and progressing
well in physical therapy. He's been breathing without ventilator
assistance and his temperature has been normal for the past several
weeks. Mr. Christerson underwent surgery on September 13 at Jewish
Hospital to implant the AbioCor totally implantable artificial
heart - the second in the world.
"Tom is making steady progress,"
said Dr. Dowling. "Each day, I see some improvement in his
"He is still very weak, but Tom is making continuous strides
in his physical therapy," added Dr. Gray. "He usually
takes a few steps every day with the help of a walker."
Although Mr. Christerson no longer
needs a ventilator to help him breathe, he continues to have trouble
swallowing. Because of that, he has a tracheotomy to prevent aspiration,
which can be caused by secretions collecting in his lungs.
The move to a less intensive care unit
indicates a significant gain for Mr. Christerson, but Dr. Gray
and Dr. Dowling say he is still weak from a pre-existing lung
disease, known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. At this
time, the physicians are not speculating on a release date for
him, although he is taking short trips around the medical campus.
The Jewish Hospital/University of Louisville
team and Drs. Gray and Dowling will continue the practice of not
giving daily updates on Mr. Christerson's condition. More information
will be made available as appropriate.
Jewish Hospital is among the top ten
cardiac centers in the United States and, along with the University
of Louisville, is dedicated to excellence, 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.