When Daquain Jenkins, 29, left The Mount Sinai Hospital last year, he became the first patient in the New York metropolitan area to return home to await a heart transplant with the assistance of a portable artificial heart.
The milestone was remarkable in a number of ways. First, the Total Artificial Heart, manufactured by SynCardia Systems, Inc., in Tucson, Arizona, replaces both failing heart ventricles and four heart valves, eliminating end-stage biventricular failure. It is immediately available to patients, and serves as a bridge while they await a suitable heart donor. In addition, it allows patients to move freely and manage everyday chores while wearing a backpack that stores the 13.5-pound battery-driven device.
The Mount Sinai surgical team that performed the eight-hour surgery on Mr. Jenkins—to remove his heart and replace it with the Total Artificial Heart—was led by Anelechi Anyanwu, MD, Co-Director of Heart Transplant, and Associate Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery; David Adams, MD, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Professor and Chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery; and Marc Stone, MD, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology.
“We believed that the Total Artificial Heart was the only hope of saving Daquain’s life, and we made sure he received it,” says Dr. Anyanwu.
In April 2011, Mr. Jenkins underwent his first heart transplant at Mount Sinai, but a year later the donor heart began to fail. Now, as Mr. Jenkins awaits another suitable heart donor, he is able to enjoy simple activities such as walking his three young children to the school bus stop each morning, and walking his dogs. He also takes online classes in web design and interactive media.
Every two weeks, his mother drives him from his home in Monticello, New York, to Mount Sinai, where he is examined by members of the Ventricular Assist Device team, which includes surgeons, cardiologists, infectious disease specialists, nurse practitioners, and social workers.
Mr. Jenkins says he is grateful to Ajith Nair, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) and other members of Mount Sinai Heart, for the care he has received since he was referred to them several years ago by a cardiologist near his home.
“I try to take every day with a smile,” says Mr. Jenkins. “The doctors here know what they’re doing. I trust them with my life.”
This article was first published in Inside Mount Sinai.