IMC Heart Institute Saves Patients with Heart Failure

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - After living an active lifestyle, one man found himself living with an artificial heart. That Arizona man travels to Utah for treatment at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute. They work to keep patients alive while they wait for a heart transplant. In our continued partnership with Intermountain Medical Center, we learn how advanced technology, expertise, and care keep patients alive without one of the most important organs.

Andrew weaver is a husband and a father. Two titles he proudly answers to. And now, he can add heart transplant recipient to the list.

“I started getting tunnel vision so I went in to a neurologist and the neurologist suggested I go get an echo on my heart and they found a bad aortic valve,” said heart transplant recipient Andrew Weaver.

Andrew went in for surgery to replace that valve.

“When it came time to come off the pump and have his heart start doing its work, it had completely failed,” said Intermountain Medical Center Heart Failure Transplant Dr. Deborah Budge.

Andrew’s heart simply gave up. And he was literally dying when he arrived at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute.

“Our surgeons and intensive care doctors worked incredible work to be able to stabilize him enough that he was then able to have the artificial heart implanted,” said Dr. Budge.

Intermountain Medical Center Heart Failure Transplant Dr. Deborah Budge shows off an artificial heart. This replaced Andrew’s after it stopped working.

“What’s very unique about this is that the person’s actual heart is removed and they're completely depended on the machine,” said Dr. Budge.

It actually pumps more blood than a real heart. Andrew had one for three months, but for some patients, it takes years for a transplant. And that means living your life attached to a machine 24-7.

“Tubes similar to these are what come outside of the body and attach to the machine,” said Dr. Budge.

The artificial heart means you can walk, talk, eat, and exercise almost like normal. Andrew lost a step and some energy. But he kept fighting. He had two great reasons to do so.

“Unlike some patients who have heart failure for many years and they will slowly get worse, his was a very dramatic presentation,” said Dr. Budge.

Andrew now has a new heart, thanks to an organ donor. And thanks to the people who encouraged him to keep fighting. Andrew lived to write this book: unbreakable: a father's fight to live. It’s all about the greatest challenge he's ever faced.

“I was kind of excited just be alive at that point,” said Weaver.

Again, the artificial heart is used as a bridge between heart failure and a heart transplant. Without it, patients wouldn't survive. To learn more information about the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute, click here.

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