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ROB’S STORY R


ROB GENTILE


ob Gentile suff ered a massive heart attack at his home in


Gastonia, N.C., in January 2016; his heart stopped at a nearby hospital. “I was dead for six minutes,” the steel company salesman tells Newsmax. He was eventually revived, but doctors thought he’d never be able to breathe on his own again. “I began breathing on the


fourth day, but my heart was destroyed,” he says. He was put on various


DR. VALLUVAN JEEVEANANDAM


treatments, but his heart needed help to keep going until he got a new one. That led him to University of Chicago Medicine, where surgeons were starting trials on a device called the NuPulse iVAS (intravascular ventricular assist system). Designed for people at end-


that researchers are on the cusp of even more major advancements — like 3-D bioprinting organs that will work in hu- man bodies, regeneration, and the pos- sibility of “humanizing” organs in pigs so they can be transplanted into people. “I’m pretty optimistic,” Klassen says.


of breakthroughs made transplants a part of routine medicine. The fi rst successful kidney trans-


O


plant occurred in 1954, at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. Within 13 years, doctors had performed the fi rst lung, liver, and kidney transplants. The fi rst heart transplant in the world took place in Cape Town, South Africa,


rgan transplantation dates to the 18th century, but it wasn’t until the mid-20th century that a series


in 1967, followed by the fi rst U.S. trans- plant a year later at Stanford University Hospital. The fi rst full face transplant was performed in 2010 in Barcelona, Spain.


Major early advances in reducing or-


gan rejections include tissue typing and, in the mid-1970s, the discovery of the immunosuppressant drug cyclosporine. Because of those and other advances, by 1984, two-thirds of all heart transplant patients survived fi ve years or more. UNOS, which has data on waiting


lists and all transplants done since Oc- tober 1987, says the fi rst-year survival rate for heart transplants was 82.2 per- cent in 1989. By 2016, that survival rate had risen to 92.3 percent. The fi ve-year survival rate for heart transplants done in 1989 was 67.1 per-


stage heart failure, Rob was the second person to get it. Thirty more people have gotten it since. Doctors expect FDA approval late next year. The iVAS does not require major incisions or open-heart surgery. It is inserted just below the collar bone, through a two- inch incision, and is connected to a 5 ½-pound device the patient carries around. “Prior to the iVas, the devices


designed to keep people alive while they waited for a new heart had a great many complications, including bleeding, strokes or death,” says Dr. Valluvan Jeeveanandam, chief of cardiac surgery at the University of Chicago Medicine. “We set out to develop a


device that could reduce the risk of those complications and get them out of the hospital much more quickly,” he says. Gentile, 58, went home in


days — and he got a new heart 3 ½ weeks later. “I’m doing great,” he says.


MAY 2018 | NEWSMAX 53


ALL IMAGES/JOHN EASTON/UCHICAGO MEDICINE


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