An Artificial Heart | VideoVan Tieu | 2/13/2013
Just seven months ago, Duane Hatzenbuehler, 61, was asking his doctor how long he had to live.
"My heart was only at 10 percent," he said.
His heart was not pumping fast enough, and parts of his body filled with fluid. It got so bad he was flown to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. That`s where doctors installed a left ventricle assist device, or L-VAD.
"L-VAD is an artificial pump that helps the heart and it`s used in patients when all other options have been exhausted," said Dr. Karthik Reddy, CATH Lab Director.
Hatzenbuehler carries the device in a fanny pack, which connects to a pump implanted below his heart- pushing blood from the lower chamber, into his aorta and throughout his body. It`s powered by two large batteries.
After the surgery, a month in ICU, and a few check ups back in Rochester, Hatzenbuehler now sees Dr. Reddy at Sanford Health in Bismarck, which is only an hour drive. Meaning more time to live his new life, albeit a different one.
"In the morning when I get up, I`m plugged into electricity over night. It`s a lifestyle change but you have to live with it and be happy you`re still here," he said.
His wife, Cleone, cares for him and makes sure he eats healthy and exercises. They say things like walking down the street is precious to them, and last fall, he even went hunting.
"I got some pheasants!" he said.
Luckily, he`s right handed so the kickback from the gun wouldn`t disrupt his artificial heart.
Dr. Reddy is the only physician in Western North Dakota certified to care for the L-VAD. Hatzenbuehler says he plans to return to work in the spring.