Jack C. Burcham, who has lost more than 40 pints of blood since receiving an artificial heart, appeared "much better" today after an operation Monday stopped the bleeding in his chest, doctors said.
Burcham, a retired railroad engineer, had about four times his total blood volume replaced after the implant operation Sunday, said Dr. Allan Lansing, chairman of Humana Heart Institute International. Blood had seeped steadily from a line of sutures connecting the Jarvik-7's dacron cuff to the aorta.
Doctors have resumed giving him anticoagulants to prevent the formation of clots that could cause a stroke. Burcham, 62, of LeRoy, Ill., was moving his extremities in response to commands and was visited by his family this afternoon.
Lansing's disclosure about the amount of blood lost underscored a dispute between him and the experiment's director, Dr. William C. DeVries -- the question of how much information should be released to the news media.
DeVries has consistently refused to reveal the extent of bleeding problems in artificial-heart recipient Murray P. Haydon, declaring that such information should be reserved for scientific journals.
On Monday, DeVries was reported incensed that Lansing, as the hospital's medical spokesman, gave reporters an estimate of Burcham's blood loss -- at least 21 pints -- and promised to find out the exact figure.
Asked about the amount today, Lansing replied: "That was a source of discussion last night . . . . He has lost 19,950 ccs of blood, or 20 liters."
As for the future release of information, he said, "Although the results may be upsetting or embarrassing or whatever, the important thing is that we report to you honestly what goes on and accurately what goes on."
He added that media coverage has been "superb" and that "intense public scrutiny has been beneficial because people criticize what's going on . . . . "
The bleeding problem also illustrates the highly experimental, trial-and-error nature of the artificial-heart project -- and the fact that members of the medical team may disagree and, as DeVries has said, "duke it out" in discussions over the course of treatment.
In Haydon's case, DeVries tried to prevent clots by choosing not to wait a few days after surgery to give blood-thinning drugs.
But Lansing said today that waiting a few days probably wouldn't have increased the risk of clots.
DeVries has the final say in medical decisions regarding the experiment.