First Nebraskan to get Artificial Heart
CREATED Mar. 27, 2013
Greg Rathe isn't your typical 42 year old guy. He's attached to this machine for now.
"We have decided as a team, that his only chance was a total artificial heart."
Doctors at the Nebraska Medical Center offered him a chance to live a longer, fuller life. His brother says the choice was easy.
"When they say you have 2 to 3 days to live or you get an artificial heart, it's a pretty easy decision to make", says Mark Rathe.
The Weeping Water native has a long way to go but his new mechanical heart makes him stronger every day.
Doctors say it's groundbreaking science.
"It completely replaces his need of ventricles so these pumps actually do pump the blood in his chest and around his body."
For the first time ever, surgeons at the Nebraska Medical Center put an artificial heart inside a patient.
An eight hour procedure that saved Greg's life, again.
"Greg received a heart transplant in 1996 for a viral illness and he's done very well until about a couple of years ago."
Greg;s donated heart failed earlier this month and Greg collapsed. On death's door, he needed another option.
"Scared, scared and confused but hopeful."
Since March 14, the total artificial heart has been keeping Greg alive and breathing. The FDA approved the device in 2004.
It weighs about 160 grams or a little more than 5 ounces, less than a real heart.
It pumps a large amount of blood through both ventricles. Greg is the first person in Nebraska to get it.
"Hoping that he'll get strong here in the next couple months."
Doctors aren't sure how long the heart will last. It's a temporary fix, until Greg can get a real heart.
He already has more energy, he's more alert. Most important though, he says he's lucky.
"Help take care of my son, he's only 4. So I can watch him grow up. Go back to work, live a normal life."