Tammy Lumpkins became the first patient on the West Coast to be discharged after receiving an artificial heart. She was operated upon at the USC Keck Hospital in late September and was finally released earlier this week.
Lumpkins, a 46-year-old mother of one, was admitted to the hospital in August. However, the long wait time for the transplant led to the need for an artificial as her health declined — her kidneys and liver began to fail and she became bed-ridden. Dr. Michael Bowdish, the Director of the hospital’s artificial heart program, later told the Los Angeles Times that the patient had been on the brink of death.
Prior to this case, patients with artificial hearts were required to stay hospitalized as they awaited heart transplants. This was so because the machines to make the devices work used to weigh 400 pounds. However, the new devices, manufactured by SynCardia, weigh only about 14 pounds and can be carried in a backpack.
Lumpkins will need to live near the hospital and undergo checkups every week. She told the Times, “I was ready to give up last summer. Now there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s getting brighter.”