LOUISVILLE, KY., DEC. 6 -- Doctors were pleased with the progress of a man who received an artificial heart two days ago but he still has not been told of the implant, a hospital spokeswoman said today.
Donna Hazle, speaking for Humana Hospital Audubon, said Walton Jones Jr. had not been told it was necessary to implant the Jarvik 7-70 to save his life after he failed to recover from bypass surgery.
The 60-year-old portrait photographer awoke several times Saturday and today, but only for brief periods, Hazle said.
"He continues to do well," Hazle said. "The doctors and nurses are pleased with his progress. When he is awake, he recognizes his family members who have been in to see him several times since his implant."
He continued on a respirator in the coronary care unit and was listed in the customary critical condition with the plastic-and-metal heart beating 100 times a minute in his chest, Hazle said.
He received the bionic heart Friday in a 10-hour operation performed by Dr. William C. DeVries, who has done four permanent artificial heart implants.
Jones, whose own heart began to fail following surgery to clear blocked arteries, had been told in advance about a last-resort possibility of receiving an artificial heart if DeVries decided it was needed to keep him alive.
Hazle said Jones is still being evaluated for a possible human heart transplant. That alternative could be ruled out if he suffers a complication, such as a stroke or infection, that increases the risk of returning to surgery. "
The Jarvik-7 has been used many times at various hospitals as a temporary heart for patients awaiting a human transplant, with the average patient receiving a human heart after 12 days.