Murray P. Haydon, 58, a former barber and retired auto worker whose life is threatened by heart failure, is to become the world's third recipient of an artificial heart.

Dr. William C. DeVries, who performed the other implant operations, is to lead the surgical team at Humana Heart Institute International Sunday morning.

Doctors said that, while Haydon suffers chronic congestive heart failure, he has no other major complications, such as those that hampered recovery of implant recipients Barney B. Clark and William J. Schroeder.

Clark, a Seattle dentist who underwent implant surgery in December 1982, had emphysema and kidney problems and died after 112 days with the device. Schroeder, given an implant last Nov. 25, is diabetic and had undergone coronary-bypass surgery.

Haydon, a Louisville resident, was admitted to Humana Hospital Audubon Wednesday and assigned a room near Schroeder. Thursday night, Haydon asked Charlie Miller, a longtime friend and business partner, to visit and give him a haircut.

"He was in real good spirits," Miller said. "He talked just about the whole time I was there, mostly about the operation. He was just talking about getting it over with and getting home."

During his visit, Miller said, Haydon walked from the bathroom where a nurse was shampooing his hair and sat for his haircut.

Today, however, Humana Inc. spokesman Robert Irvine described Haydon as struggling for breath, doubled up in bed and "going downhill fast. . . . I think he looks like Bill Schroeder did before his implant."

Before Haydon was selected, more than two dozen prospective implant patients had been interviewed and tested since November.

Officials said Haydon met all of the criteria for an implant. These include being too old for a heart transplant, having advanced heart disease that cannot otherwise be treated and having strong family support. He and his wife of 32 years, Juanita, have three grown children and four grandchildren.

Schroeder, 53, was so weak before his operation that he could barely lift his head from his pillow. Hours after the implant, he was rushed to surgery to correct internal bleeding caused by extensive scarring from his bypass operation.

Schroeder enjoyed what doctors described as a spectacular recovery for 18 days. He took brief walks with a portable power pack, cracked jokes and took advantage of a telephone call from President Reagan to solve a problem with his Social Security payments.

But, on Dec. 13, he suffered a stroke and was unable to say more than a few words at a time. His short-term memory remains impaired. Although he remembers the distant past, he has trouble recalling what happened a few hours previously, DeVries said recently.

The degree of memory loss may not be known for several months, but DeVries said he believes that Schroeder will have difficulty speaking for the rest of his life.

This week, doctors have been concerned about a puzzling fever that Schroeder has been unable to shake for two weeks. His temperature has fluctuated daily, from just above normal to as high as 105 degrees.

At first, the medical team said it suspected that the fever was part of a reaction to medications, including anti-depressants. Dosages were reduced or stopped a week ago, but the fever remained. Doctors then pointed to Schroeder's recent bout with the flu, which had subsided today.

Although the fever's cause remains a mystery, doctors are not alarmed because he shows no sign of infection, Irvine said.

Hospital officials had hoped to move Schroeder and his wife, Margaret, into a newly renovated apartment across the street from the hospital in time for Schroeder's 53rd birthday on Valentine's Day.

Because he is not feeling well, they said the couple will move no sooner than the end of the month. For an undetermined time, a live-in nurse is to assist them in operating the artifical heart's power system, to which Schroeder must remain connected.

Before that, DeVries said he expects that Schroeder will ride in a special van expected to be ready next week and also be allowed to make the 180-mile round trip to his hometown of Jasper, Ind., for his son's wedding next month.

Clark was never able to leave the Utah hospital where his implant took place.

Clark and Schroeder suffered neurological problems. Clark had seizures, while Schroeder's post-implant stroke was blamed on clots or flakes from an artery wall that made their way to the brain.

DeVries has said he suspects but cannot prove that the clots originated in or around the Jarvik-7 artificial heart, which will be given Haydon.

DeVries said the only major change he anticipates in Haydon's therapy would involve earlier doses of aspirin, which is regularly used to prevent clotting.