Artificial Heart Recipient: "I feel like I'm 16 again"
Three months later, Greg Rathe says he "feels perfect"Photo: Video by kmtv.com
Avoca, NE-Three months after he first received the first total artificial heart in the state of Nebraska, Greg Rathe says he's a new man.
"I feel perfect. I feel like I'm 16 again," he said.
The Weeping Water native had a heart transplant in 1996 after a viral infection. That heart began to fail him. Doctors at the Nebraska Medical Center offered him a chance to live a longer, fuller life back in March. He says has a long way to go but his new mechanical heart makes him stronger every day.
Doctors say its groundbreaking science. For about two months the total artificial heart kept 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 was the first person in Nebraska to get it.
"I feel extremely lucky."
Last month, Rathe received a new donor heart and kidney.
"I can't begin to think about what I would say to that person's family. Thank you is a start, but I don't know" he said.
Rathe is excited to get his strength back. He starts cardiac rehabilitation Monday. He still needs to a gain a lot of weigh, and can't go back to work for about six months, but he's excited to live again.
"Oh just, smiling and laughing. Fishing. Hunting. My son. My daughter, that's just about everything," he said.