Health Watch: Artificial hearts are helping save lives

Kerry Hayes has had a faulty aortic valve since he was born.

"I wasn't getting the oxygen I was supposed to get," Hayes said. "Blood would flow back and forth instead of all one direction."

He got an artificial heart a year and a half ago, which is almost as long as he was on the list for a donor's heart. His doctor found Hayes a heart from a donor who had Hep C. It could be cured with antiretrovirals after surgery.

Hayes got his heart and just found out his hep-c is gone.

"I felt that I was probably going to be cured, but you know, it feels good to have somebody tell you, 'yes, you are for surely cured,'" Hayes said.

Transplant surgeon Jorge Reyes says 20 livers and hearts from donors with circulating Hepatitis C have gone to patients so far.

"They're hep c negative," Reyes said. They have never been exposed to hep c, but the risk of dying of their liver disease or their heart disease, etc., is very high."

Twelve patients have been cured of hep c, seven are still getting treatment and one died of transplant complications. No potential recipient has said no.

"If we have a donor who is hepatitis c positive, and with healthy organs, all those organs should be used," Reyes said.

Hayes is still taking a lot of anti-rejection medication, but he's delighted to get back to his normal life with Rina, and his family.

"All the signs are pointing to getting back to being like everyone else," Hayes said.
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