Braintree man gets New England's 1st total artificial heart
BOSTON (WHDH) -- Brigham and Women's Hospital introduced the man who received New England's first total artificial heart implant Thursday.
"It is impossible to publicly thank all the caring and supportive doctors and nurses who made this possible and encouraged me every day. They know who they are. I say ‘Thank you’ to them every day," said Jim Carelli Jr., artificial heart transplant patient.
Carelli spoke of his decision to become New England’s first total artificial heart transplant patient.
"It’s not a difficult choice when you want to live – and I wanted to live," Carelli said.
The 66-year-old, a retired Braintree High School teacher and track coach, needs the device to pump his blood through his body as he waits for a human heart donation. The device was implanted earlier this year and the procedure was announced Thursday.
James Carelli Jr. was diagnosed in 2011 with a disease that made a protein in his blood thicken his heart and cause other organs to start to fail. With no transplant in sight, doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital felt they had only one choice: to implant a light- weight artificial heart in Carelli’s chest.
It took a team of doctors and nurses 8 hours to perform the surgery.
The heart is powered by a machine that Carelli affectionately refers to as "Big Blue."
"This is not impossible. Due to the fact that his kidney function did not recover as we had hoped for after surgery and he remains supported with dialysis," said Doctor Michael Givertz, Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Carelli is now a guest at the hospital waiting for a heart transplant. He says he only looks to the future with no regrets.
"This is a big leap of faith and you know there are going to be a heart. And there’s no turning back. Once that’s gone they’re not going to give it back to you if it doesn’t work. You better have faith," Carelli said.
The artificial heart is only supposed to last a few months to two years at the most
Carelli hopes his story inspires others to become organ donors.