Houston team trains for artificial heart

HOUSTON, A 13-member surgical team at Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center in Houston is training to implant an artificial heart, hospital officials say.

Dr. Matthias Loebe, surgical director of the heart & lung transplant program, says the team completed its first phase of certification training to implant the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart.

"Our hospital currently offers 10 different mechanical circulatory support devices for heart failure patients, but there is only one approved Total Artificial Heart," Loebe said in a statement.

"It is the only device that allows us to replace both the left and right failing heart ventricles. The Total Artificial Heart will allow us to bridge patients to transplant who would've otherwise been out of treatment options."

The Total Artificial Heart is approved as a bridge to human heart transplant for people dying from end-stage biventricular failure. It is the only device that provides immediate, safe blood flow through both ventricles.

There have been more than 850 implants of the Total Artificial Heart, officials of SynCardia say.