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More Patients Receiving Artificial Heart

As attention was focused on the war against terror, a fourth artificial heart was implanted in a patient this month by doctors in California.

All four patients are reportedly doing well. The first recipient has now survived for more than 3 months with his new heart. There is one more implantation planned this year, and Dr. Louis Samuels of Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia is the surgeon who will do it.

He spoke with Early Show anchor Bryant Gumbel about the significance of the successes so far and the future potential of the technology.

The fourth patient, described only as a man in his 70s, underwent an 11-hour operation on Wednesday, October 17. Doctors at the UCLA Medical Center in California removed his heart and implanted the AbioCor replacement.

The operation was described as successful and the patient described as "resting comfortably." This follows the implantation of the third heart at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston almost 1 month ago (September 26). That patient, also a very sick man, is doing well following surgery.

The first and second hearts were implanted by doctors at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky on July 2 and September 13, 2001. All patients are in stable condition in varying stages of improved health, compared to their dire circumstances before implantation. The third and fourth patients remain anonymous and no further information is available.

The fifth patient will be chosen by Samuels' surgical team.

Samuels does not have an exact timetable for the fifth implantation, but his team is currently looking for a patient who fits the profile of being in end-stage heart failure and not a transplant candidate. The device must be able to fit into the body cavity, and the patient must want to have the operation.

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