LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The cardiac surgery team at UofL Health – Jewish Hospital is the second in the United States to implant a new experimental advanced total artificial heart within the framework of an Early Feasibility Study. The procedure was done in partnership with the University of Louisville and the UofL Health – Trager Transplant Center.

The team, led by Mark Slaughter, M.D., lead cardiothoracic surgeon at UofL Health – Jewish Hospital, professor, and chair of the Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery in the UofL School of Medicine and cardiothoracic surgeon with UofL Physicians, performed the implant of the investigational device on Aug. 20, 2021.

The artificial heart, Aeson®, developed by French medical device company CARMAT, serves as a bridge to transplant for patients with end-stage biventricular heart failure – heart disease affecting both left and right sides of the heart – allowing more time for the patient to receive a permanent heart organ transplant. More than 3,400 individuals in the U.S. currently are awaiting a heart transplant and there are few other treatment options for patients with biventricular heart disease.

“We are excited to provide this new technology to patients in Kentucky and the surrounding region and be one of the first U.S. centers to implant this new total artificial heart,” Dr. Slaughter said. “This device has the potential to save lives of critically ill patients suffering from biventricular heart failure who currently have very limited treatment options.”

The new total artificial heart was implanted into a middle-aged man from Southern Indiana with severe biventricular heart failure during a seven-and-a-half-hour surgery. The recipient, whose identity is being withheld upon request, was referred to the Advanced Heart Failure Therapies Program at Jewish Hospital. The patient currently is doing well in the cardiac surgery ICU. The Advanced Heart Failure Therapies Program at Jewish Hospital is the only program in the area that is performing heart transplants, the latest in mechanical circulatory support and cell-based therapies for advanced heart failure.

Innovative care is what put Jewish Hospital on the world map,” said John Walsh, chief administrative officer at Jewish Hospital. “UofL Health was formed, in part, with a promise to preserve and build on the transplant legacy for generations to come. This procedure is another lifesaving milestone.” 

The new device is designed to solve the limitations of left-ventricular assist devices (LVAD), which pump blood in just one chamber, by pumping blood in both heart chambers. Aeson also contains biosensors that detect the patient’s blood pressure and position and automatically adapts cardiac output according to the sensor information. It is fully implanted as a heart replacement and powered by a portable external power supply.

“We are honored that our device is implanted at UofL Health – Jewish Hospital, which is recognized throughout the United States for its quality of care and cardiovascular research,” said Stéphane Piat, chief executive officer of CARMAT. “I would like to congratulate the teams at Jewish Hospital, the University of Louisville, as well as our technical and medical staff, on this exceptional milestone for both patients and our company.”

The device is medically approved in Europe, where approximately 20 devices have been implanted. The first Aeson artificial heart in North America was implanted in July at Duke University.

This is not the first time the University of Louisville and Jewish Hospital have made artificial heart history. Just over 20 years ago, on July 2, 2001, UofL cardiothoracic surgeon Laman Gray led the surgical team that implanted the first self-contained artificial heart in the United States at Jewish Hospital. The AbioCor artificial heart was implanted into Robert Tools, who lived five months on the device. The UofL surgical team also performed the first heart transplant in Kentucky at Jewish Hospital in 1984.