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Palmyra man first in PA with artificial heart powered externally

Written by Megan Lello and Craig Layne | Feb 12, 2013 4:36 AM

(Hershey) -- A cardiac patient from Lebanon County is the first in the state to keep his own heart pumping through a device he's able to hold in his hand.

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Seventy-four-year-old Bob Phillips of Palmyra has recently received an artificial heart that's operated by a portable, 13-pound driver he stores in a backpack. He suffered a severe heart attack last year and was treated at Penn State Hershey Heart and Vascular Insitute in Dauphin County.

Dr. Aly El Banayosy, who's part of Phillips' medical team, says an older type of driver weighs about 400 pounds and would've cut down on the patient's quality of life. "Instead of the old-fashioned one, which was designed in the late '70s and early '80s, we have a very modern one now which is, a patient can carry it, having the same function like the older one, but the big difference is the size and the weight."

The federal Food and Drug Administration hasn't yet approved the current driver used by Phillips, who spent three months in the hospital before returning home.

About 300 people in the country are eligible for this type of treatment.

Phillips is now waiting for a human heart transplant.

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