UofL Health surgeons perform world’s first type of artificial heart procedure on woman

UofL Health-Jewish Hospital surgeons hold up the Aeson artificial heart.
UofL Health-Jewish Hospital surgeons hold up the Aeson artificial heart.(UofL Health)
Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 3:38 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2021 at 2:47 PM CDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A 57-year-old Kentucky woman became the first woman in the world to receive the new Aeson bioprosthetic total artificial heart and the third in the country, following two American male recipients.

The Aeson artificial heart is currently being tested in the United States as a bridge to transplantation, giving a patient more time to get healthy enough to get on the heart transplant list. The test is part of a feasibility study approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Jewish Hospital is one of four programs in the country authorized to perform this procedure. On Sept. 14, surgeons operated for eight hours on the Kentucky woman, who wanted to remain anonymous and was suffering from chronic biventricular failure. She became the first woman in the world to receive the Aeson device.

“Heart failure in the United States is a very serious problem,” Dr. Mark Slaughter, the surgical director of heart transplants for UofL Health, said. “There are about six million in the United States with heart failure, there’s about 250,000 deaths per year, but we only do about 3,000 heart transplants, so you could imagine the individuals who at the moment aren’t transplant eligible, or may never become transplant eligible. They need some alternatives.”

The Aeson device is designed to solve the limitations of the current-left ventricular assist devices, which pump blood in only one chamber.

“The Aeson device we just implanted is designed to help patients with biventricular failure, and thus opens up a wide spectrum of patients we can help with it,” Dr. Siddharth Pahwa, a UofL Physicians cardiothoracic surgeon, said.

Another unique aspect of the Aeson device is it can sense how much blood the body needs and pump accordingly. UofL began preclinical research on this device’s specific technology more than five years ago.

“It truly is amazing technology,” Slaughter said. “It’s very different than anything we’ve used in the past, and very closely mimics the human heart and its response to exercise, activity and rest.”

About one month prior to the woman’s procedure, Jewish Hospital surgeons performed the same surgery on the second patient in the country to receive the Aeson device. Both patients are recovering well at Jewish Hospital, doctors said.

The first Aeson artificial heart recipient was a male who was operated on at Duke University Medical Center in July.

Doctors said following the surgery, patients spend around 10 days in the ICU and another two to three weeks in the hospital while they gain their strength.

The Aeson device has been approved in Europe as a bridge to transplantation. So far, 20 individuals have received the artificial heart, and doctors said early results are promising.

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