Spokane, Wash. — A Spokane grandfather who spent nearly 100 days in the Sacred Heart Medical Center Intensive Care Unit (ICU) returned home this month with a Total Artificial Heart (TAH). His homecoming marks the first time a Providence Health Care patient has left the hospital with this technology. He is one of only 10 people in the nation with a TAH currently.
In early 2021, end-stage heart failure sent Greg Soumokil to the Intensive Care Unit. It soon became clear to his team of Providence providers that common treatments wouldn’t be enough to keep Greg alive until a donor heart transplant came through.
In February, cardiac surgeon Dr. Cristy Smith, assisted by Dr. Dennis Nichols, opted for innovation in the form of the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart (TAH). Dr. Smith previously trained with the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart’s inventor, Dr. Jack G. Copeland, in Arizona.
The artificial heart replaces the lower ventricles that pump blood to the body. Unlike other mechanical circulatory support devices, the SynCardia TAH replaces both sides of the failing heart. A portable driver small enough to fit inside a backpack powers the artificial heart, giving discharged patients more freedom.
In May, Greg’s integrated team of nurses, physical therapists, doctors, and other support staff celebrated as Greg got ready to finally go home. The bright yellow sunshine balloon tied to his wheelchair bobbed along, a sign of better things to come.
“Providence is committed to advancing the treatment of end-stage heart failure,” Dr. Smith said. “Greg’s progress is exciting and we are so happy to see him go home to spend time with his family. Our team is humbled by this opportunity to perform such an innovative procedure and to be a part of Greg’s life in this way.”
Greg is currently waiting for a combined heart and kidney transplant, which will take place at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center when the organs become available. Until his organ match, he’ll be enjoying time at home with his wife, grandkids, and dogs.
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