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TRANSPLANT PATIENT DOESN’T MISS ARTIFICIAL HEART

SHARE TRANSPLANT PATIENT DOESN’T MISS ARTIFICIAL HEART

Sharoyn Loughran doesn't miss the click-clicking of an artificial heart that kept her alive for six months. After receiving a human heart transplant, she's just anxious to go home, her husband says.

"All I want to do is what she wants, and that's get out and stretch those limbs. She wants to have a little bit more control over managing her own life," Rick Loughran said Tuesday. "She missed one bowling season and one Little League season."Sharoyn Loughran, 47, the first person in the country since 1991 to receive a total artificial heart, has been upgraded to serious but stable condition since Friday's transplant at University Medical Center.

Loughran said his wife hasn't dwelled on the silence of a natural heart in place of the noisy, air-driven machine, or the power unit, the size of a washing machine, to which she was tethered the whole time.

"It became such second-nature to her," he said. But he added: "I know there's not going to be any sadness" that it's been replaced.

Her doctors continue to monitor her closely for signs that she might be rejecting the donor organ because of her blood chemistry.

"There'll always be a look at that," Loughran said. "There are no signs at this point," and the critical period of immediate rejection has passed, he said.

It was difficult to find a compatible organ because antibodies in Sharoyn Loughran's blood that were capable of causing acute rejection of a donor heart rose shortly after her Jan. 11 operation.

She lived with the plastic-and-metal CardioWest pump inside her chest for 186 days. Her surgeon, Dr. Jack Copeland, said that might be the longest anyone who's gone on to a successful transplant has had an artificial heart.

Copeland, who in 1985 pioneered use of the artificial heart as a temporary bridge to transplant, said the severe buildup of scar tissue around the device had made Friday's operation more difficult. She'd been expected to have a transplant within a month.

Sharoyn Loughran has been eating solid foods, sitting up, walking within her room. Now, her husband said, she's concentrating on being discharged soon.

He said that could come within a few weeks. But now, after marking four birthdays, St. Patrick's, Mother's Day and Father's Day in the hospital, she's anxious to get back home with their two sons.

The hearts are virtually identical to the Jarvik artificial pumps that gained prominence during the 1980s at the University of Utah.