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LDS Hospital officials have released the name of Utah's third artificial heart recipient, whose condition has been upgraded from critical to serious.

He is VerDon Brinkerhoff, 57, a mechanical engineer from St. George. His family asked that his name be withheld for a time, but now that he is on the mend they have granted permission to identify him.Brinkerhoff was in the final stage of heart failure after suffering a massive heart attack as a result of coronary artery disease. He received a CardioWest C-70 artificial heart on July 20.

The operation was performed at LDS Hospital, where Alvin Marsden had a C-70 implanted on April 11. Marsden remains in good condition, eager for the transplantation of a donor heart so he can go home to Boise.

Utah's first artificial heart patient was the dentist Barney Clark, who was also the world's first. In 1982, Clark received a Jarvik 7 heart, developed at the University of Utah; he survived 112 days.

"Mr. Brinkerhoff is making progress," said Dr. James W. Long, who led the cardiac surgical team that implanted the devices in both recent patients. "He's conscious, alert and interacting with medical staff and family members."

For patients who are as mortally ill as Brinkerhoff was, extended recovery times are to be expected, he said. "His body is just beginning to recover from the stress of the heart attack," Long added.

A fund has been established to help with Brinkerhoff's medical costs. Donations can be sent to the Deseret Foundation, care of VerDon Brinkerhoff Fund, Eighth Avenue and C Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84143.