Sanford Teen First in Florida to Receive Total Artificial Heart

Lexi's nurse helps her get her backpack-size pneumatic driver on her shoulders so she can walk through the intensive care unit.
Lexi’s nurse helps her get her backpack-size pneumatic driver on her shoulders so she can walk through the intensive care unit.

A 16-year-old girl in severe multi-organ system and heart failure is the first in Florida to receive the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart, the only approved mechanical device that eliminates the symptoms and source of heart failure.

University of Florida Health surgeons implanted the device in early June in an effort to stabilize Sanford, Fla., teenager Nalexia “Lexi” Henderson so she would be healthy enough to survive transplant when a donor heart becomes available.

“Lexi was clearly in shock; she was really sick,” said Bleiweis, director and principal cardiothoracic surgeon for the UF Health Congenital Heart Center. “We supported her with ECMO for a short period, but her previous transplant was failing. She was in deep trouble, with multiorgan dysfunction.”

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