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Man Uses Portable ‘Driver’ Instead Of Real Heart

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File photo of a surgeon's table (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

File photo of a surgeon’s table (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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SEATTLE (CBS Seattle/AP) — A 51-year-old Wasilla, Alaska, man fitted with an artificial heart in a six-hour surgery last month has left a Seattle hospital to begin what may be a long wait for a heart transplant.

The Seattle Times reports that such artificial heart patients typically have been tethered to a 400-pound mechanical “driver.” That meant they had to stay in a hospital until a donor heart became available — a year or longer.

Christopher Marshall is using a backpack-sized portable driver being tested by the University of Washington Medical Center and other such centers. KOMO-TV reports that Marshall is one of about 40 in the United States trying the 13 1/2-pound device.

He was diagnosed in 1999 with an irregular fast heartbeat and a disease that destroys heart muscle. His condition worsened dramatically in 2011.

Still, when he and his wife arrived Jan. 23 in Seattle, they expected a short visit to heart specialists. They were told Marshall was so sick he needed a new heart – now.

They will stay in the Seattle area while they wait for a donor heart.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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