HERSHEY, Pa. (AP) - The first person in the United States to get a revolutionary heart pump developed at the Hershey Medical Center has gotten a long-needed heart transplant after proving to doctors that he had stopped smoking, officials said.
Gayle Snider, 36, of West York, got the heart of a 24-year-old man who died in the Philadelphia area. He was listed in critical condition Sunday, a day after the operation, and was expected to regain consciousness, a hospital official said.
Dr. Walter Pae, one of the leaders of the surgical team that performed Saturday's operation, said Snider could leave the hospital in less than two weeks if there are no complications. The biggest short-term threat for heart transplant patients is severe internal bleeding, Pae said, but he saw no signs of that after Snider's surgery.
Snider has needed a heart transplant since 1996, when his heart was severely damaged by an unknown condition, possibly a virus. But for years, he was ineligible for a transplant because he smoked. For the past year, he was kept alive by the Arrow LionHeart, an experimental heart-assist pump that took over the work of his heart's main pumping chamber.
The LionHeart, a completely implantable pump, is designed for people with severe congestive heart failure who don't respond to medical therapy and can't qualify for a heart transplant.
Snider said he hasn't smoked since the day before he got the experimental pump on May 14, 2003, but doctors would not take his word for it before going forward with a transplant. He had to submit to six months of random urine tests to prove that he no longer smoked.
Snider was driving home from work Friday night when the medical center's organ-transplant coordinator reached him by cell phone and said a heart might be available. At nearly 4 a.m. Saturday, after a lengthy "cross-matching" procedure, his doctors told him they were certain it was a good match.