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UK Center at Forefront of Medical Care

By Lane Report Staff

Doctors at the state-of-the-art University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital successfully gave 20-year-old Zack Poe of Maysville, Ky., a SynCardia Total Artificial Heart in early February, then a few weeks later vastly improved his mobility with the SynCardia Freedom Driver.

Poe, who is waiting on the availability of a permanent human transplant heart, is the first in Kentucky to use the wearable power device.

The Freedom Driver weighs 13.5 pounds and is carried in a small backpack or shoulder bag. It is in trials to become an approved alternative to the 412-pound machine that currently is the only FDA approved artificial heart driver. It could be the dawn of a new day for patients on heart transplant waiting lists.

This is potentially great news not just for Poe, who is roughly the 25th person in the United States to benefit from this medical advance, but for Kentuckians. It means Kentucky doctors and facilities are among the top centers of excellence nationally, able to provide the most advanced care available. A second Kentuckian already had received a SynCardia Total Artificial Heart as this issue was going to press.

UK surgeons Dr. Charles Hoopes, director of the UK Heart and Lung Transplant Program and the Mechanical Cardiac Support Program, and Dr. Mark Plunkett, chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery and the co-director of the Linda and Jack Gill Heart Institute, have both received certification from SynCardia to perform this procedure.

Medical centers undergo a stringent four-part certification process also. Nationally, 29 have been certified.