Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston announced it is the first pediatric hospital in the U.S. to implant an artificial heart into the chest of a 17-year-old patient as the only option to save his life, according to a news release. The patient, Jordan Merecka, underwent a rare 15-hour operation in May. He is one of three congenital heart patients in the U.S. to get such a device.
Merecka, who was born with his heart on the wrong side of his chest (dextrocardia) and his heart vessels backwards (corrected transposition of the great arteries), underwent heart surgery at Texas Children’s Heart Center, where he was implanted with the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart, a pulsatile blood pump that mimics the pumping action of the heart. The Total Artificial Heart was implanted in Jordan as a bridge to donor-heart transplantation.
The heart is a long-term device designed for a range of advanced-stage heart failure patients who might die before a donor heart becomes available. It is powered by a driver, and Merecka recently was provided with a portable drive that allowed him far more mobility.
“He will still need a donor heart, but we now have time to wait for the best match,” Jeffrey Dreyer, MD, medical director of cardiac transplantation at Texas Children’s Hospital said in the release. “The artificial heart will improve his overall health and allow him to enjoy increased activity during the wait for a donor heart.”
Merecka, who missed his May prom and 18th birthday this year because of his hospitalization, was able to celebrate his birthday one week after the successful surgery. On June 5, Merecka watched his graduation ceremony online while his 16-year-old sister accepted his diploma, according to the release. He eventually hopes to attend Texas A&M University Galveston to study marine biology.
“Having Jordan up and around again is the best gift in the world,” Suzanne Merecka, his mother, said in the release. “His father and I are happy that Texas Children’s could offer a life-saving option when things looked very grim. He still has a heart transplant in his future, but the artificial heart will help him to get stronger and be ready.”