Baylor College of Medicine

New, smaller artificial heart implanted at Baylor St. Luke’s

Graciela Gutierrez


Houston, TX -

Baylor College of Medicine doctors at CHI St. Luke’s Health–Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center (Baylor St. Luke’s) have successfully implanted a new, smaller version of the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart for patient suffering from biventricular end-stage heart failure.

The patient is the third person in the country and the first in Texas to be discharged home with this smaller artificial heart.

Chief of cardiothoracic transplantation and circulatory support at Baylor, Dr. Jeffrey Morgan, who also is surgical director of mechanical circulatory support and cardiac transplant at Texas Heart Institute at Baylor St. Luke’s, performed the procedure.

“This device has the potential to revolutionize the field of artificial heart technology,” said Morgan, who holds the Lester and Sue Smith Endowed Chair in Surgery at Baylor. “Due to its smaller size, we can now treat patients who previously could not be treated with artificial heart technology and get them back to living a close to normal lifestyle.”

The 50cc device, a smaller version of the 70cc device, is designed to fit patients smaller in stature, with life-threatening non-reversible biventricular (both sides) heart failure. These patients are typically women and adolescents who do not have the body surface area to receive the larger version.

With as many as 100,000 people in the U.S. in need of new hearts and a little more than 2,500 receiving a transplant last year, the device is designed to be used either as a bridge to a donor heart transplant or for destination therapy, which provides long-term support to patients who are not candidates for transplant.

Similar to a heart transplant, SynCardia's Total Artificial Heart replaces both failing heart ventricles and the four heart valves. In most cases, SynCardia's heart restores blood flow, pumping up to 9.5 liters per minute, and eliminates complications associated with the patient's failing heart. This helps vital organs to recover faster and allows patients to be better transplant candidates when a donor heart does become available. As a result, patients usually see an improvement in their activity levels and overall quality of life.

"This device was instrumental in saving the patient’s life both by eliminating the symptoms and source of end-stage heart failure and acting as bridge to transplant in someone dying from heart failure,” said the patient’s primary cardiologist, Dr. Leo Simpson, assistant professor at Baylor and director of interventional heart failure at Baylor St. Luke’s.

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