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Knowing your Family's Heart Disease History Could Help Save Your Life
The SynCardia Total Artificial Heart Provides Bridge to Transplant for 25-Year-Old Southern California Man Whose Father Died of the Same Disease
Stroh had never had a heart problem until the winter of 2013. He became breathless after riding his motorcycle on a cold January morning to a job site to install conveyor equipment. This went on for several days until early February. After hours of vomiting and sweating, he tried to sleep, only to wake up because he couldn't breathe.
His mother took him to a nearby emergency room where doctors found a liter of liquid in his lungs. They diagnosed Stroh as suffering from congestive heart failure. It was then that his mom, Esperanza Longo, realized what was happening. "She was just crying," Stroh recalls. "It was the same thing that my dad went through 22 years ago. She was witnessing it again. That scared me. I thought I was going to die."
After a few days in the hospital, Stroh went home with medication, but his conditioned worsened. He couldn't keep food down and his skin started turning gray. He moved out of his Rancho Cucamonga apartment to live with his family in Fontana.
By late April he was admitted to a SynCardia Certified Center in California. Stroh, who was within days of death, was too sick to be put on the heart transplant list. On May 10, surgeons implanted the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart, which is used as a bridge to transplant for patients suffering from end-stage heart failure affecting both sides of the heart (biventricular failure).
The SynCardia Heart is the only device that eliminates the symptoms and source of end-stage biventricular heart failure. It provides immediate, safe blood flow of up to 9.5 liters per minute through each ventricle.
Stroh's condition improved immediately after implant. "My family instantly said they could see the color in my skin coming back," he says. "I woke up and I actually felt really good. It was like instant relief. I felt almost normal again."
Nearly seven weeks later, Stroh, equipped with the Freedom® portable driver to power his SynCardia heart was discharged from the hospital. He carried the 13.5 pound wearable power supply in a backpack.
For the month that he was waiting for a donor heart, Stroh and his family went on several outings, including the beach and the mall. They even took in a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game where he took pictures with rookie phenom Yasiel Puig. Electrical outlets in the handicapped seating sections at Dodger Stadium allowed Stroh to charge his driver's two lithium batteries while he enjoyed the game.
By mid-July Stroh's health improved enough that he was placed on the donor heart transplant wait list. He received a human heart on July 29 and went home only eight days later.
Stroh celebrated his 25th birthday on Sept. 20 with a new heart and plans to return to work and take some college classes.
"The SynCardia Total Artificial Heart saved my life," he says. "My sick body wasn't strong enough to get a transplant. I give it 100 percent credit for getting me through."
His mother, who lost her first husband to the same disease, is grateful. Says Stroh: "She told me, 'Thank God and thank technology for being so advanced that it saved your life.'"
The Freedom portable driver is CE approved for use in Europe and undergoing an FDA-approved Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) clinical study in the U.S.
CAUTION - The Freedom portable driver is an investigational device, limited by United States law to investigational use.
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