Lurie Children’s Patient is Youngest, Smallest to Receive 50cc SynCardia Total Artificial Heart

Born with a congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart
syndrome, 11-year-old Jaheim Whigham received a heart transplant in
2012, but began rejecting the donor heart in 2016

TUCSON, Ariz.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#TotalArtificialHeart–To save the life of an 11-year-old boy, Ann
& Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
has become
the first pediatric hospital in the United States to implant the 50cc
SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart

Jaheim Whigham is the world’s youngest and smallest person to
receive the 50cc Total Artificial Heart, a smaller version of the 70cc
Total Artificial Heart that received FDA approval in 2004. The smaller
version is designed to fit women, men of smaller stature and adolescents
like Whigham.

“We had no other options but to implant Jaheim with the artificial
heart,” said Carl
Backer, MD
Division Head, Cardiovascular
at Lurie Children’s and Professor of Surgery at Northwestern
University Feinberg School of Medicine
. “Since the artificial heart
implant on December 1, 2016, Jaheim’s other organs have recovered
nicely. He keeps getting stronger and has now been listed for a heart

Whigham was born with a congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left
heart syndrome, where the heart has just one working chamber. He
received his first heart transplant in 2012. However, during a routine
check-up at Lurie Children’s in October 2016, tests revealed he was in
heart failure because of donor heart rejection.

Whigham was immediately admitted to the hospital and treated intensively
for rejection. Several weeks later, however, his other organ systems
began to fail. To save his life, Lurie Children’s cardiac surgeons
removed his transplanted heart and implanted the 50cc Total Artificial

“This device is actually making him a better candidate for a
transplant,” said nurse Ann Mead, RN, CCU. “Many times what
happens is that a patient’s body becomes quite frail because of the
other organs that are involved that makes a heart transplant a greater
risk. But with physical and occupational therapy and better nutrition to
make him stronger, the artificial heart makes Jaheim a better candidate
when a heart is available. He can already walk around and do other
things he couldn’t do before he had the artificial heart.”

Similar to a heart transplant, the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart
replaces both failing heart ventricles and the four heart valves,
allowing Whigham’s doctors to remove his failing donor heart. Unlike a
donor heart, the Total Artificial Heart cannot be rejected by the body
and is readily available at SynCardia
Certified Centers
, allowing patients to receive a new heart without
the wait.

During a press conference held by Lurie Children’s on Jan. 17, Whigham’s
parents, who have lost two other children to hypoplastic left heart
syndrome, expressed their gratitude for the Lurie Children’s care team
and the hope the Total Artificial Heart has given them.

“It’s hard for me, but when I look at Jaheim, it makes me smile and it
brings me up and gives me motivation,” said his mother LaKim with tears
in her eyes.

“It’s an amazing thing to be here and have my kid be with me every
single day, and to know we have a fighting team for us is amazing,” said
his father Michael.

In front of a crowd of reporters and hospital staff, Whigham was also
able to hug his younger brother Raheim for the first time since his
implant surgery last month, a moment that brought Whigham to tears, as
well as many in the room.

Just a few days later, Whigham was switched from the Companion
2 hospital driver
, which powers his Total Artificial Heart, to the
smaller Freedom®
portable driver
, which provides greater mobility and can be worn in
a backpack or shoulder bag. Worldwide, more than 300 patients have been
supported by the Freedom driver, accounting for more than 77,000 patient
days of support.

CAUTION — In the United States, the 50cc SynCardia temporary Total
Artificial Heart is an investigational device, limited by federal law to
investigational use.

About Lurie Children’s

The Heart
at Lurie Children’s is one of the top children’s heart
centers in the country according to US News & World Report.
On average, their heart
perform 450 heart surgeries each year, with one of the best
survival rates for congenital heart surgery among the nation’s 40
largest and most advanced children’s hospitals — even for heart
. For a third successive time, the Heart Center recently
received a 3-star rating from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS),
the highest rating level awarded. This 3-star rating is given to only
10% of programs in the country participating in the STS congenital
cardiac surgery database (

About SynCardia Systems, LLC

SynCardia Systems, LLC (
in Tucson, Ariz., is the privately-held manufacturer of the world’s
first and only FDA, Health Canada and CE approved Total Artificial
Heart. For people suffering from end-stage heart failure affecting both
sides of the heart (biventricular failure), the SynCardia temporary
Total Artificial Heart is used as a bridge to transplant, helping them
survive until a matching donor heart becomes available. SynCardia also
manufactures the Freedom® portable driver, which powers the SynCardia
Total Artificial Heart and allows clinically stable patients to be
discharged from the hospital to enjoy life at home while they wait for a
heart transplant.

Follow SynCardia: Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Google+


Lurie Children’s
Julie Pesch, 312-227-4261
Systems, LLC
Janelle Drumwright, 520-547-7463