Retired Pro Hockey Player 1st to Receive Total Artificial Heart in Upstate New York

University of Rochester Medical Center Implants  Gaetano “Gates” Orlando with World’s Only  approved Total Artificial Heart  to Bridge Him to a Heart Transplant

On April 11, 2012, University of Rochester Medical Center announced its first implant of the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart at a news conference. L to R: Leway Chen, M.D., M.P.H., medical director of the Artificial Heart Program, H. Todd Massey, M.D., surgical director of the Artificial Heart Program and Eugene Storozynsky, M.D., Ph.D., transplant cardiologist with the Artificial Heart Program.

SynCardia Systems, Inc., manufacturer of the world’s first and only FDA, Health Canada and CE (Europe)     approved Total Artificial Heart, announced today that retired professional     hockey player and two-time Olympian, Gaetano “Gates” Orlando, has become     the first person in upstate New York to receive the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart. The 49-year-old, who played for the Buffalo Sabres and Rochester Americans, as well as the Italian national team in the 1994  and 1998 Olympics, received the Total Artificial Heart on April 4, at  University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC).

“This is tremendous technology  that can have a dramatic effect on patients who are experiencing advanced heart failure,” said H. Todd Massey, M.D., surgical director of the URMC Artificial Heart Program who led the surgery. “For this patient, it was the  only option to keep him alive until a donor heart could become  available.”

Last year, Orlando was  diagnosed with a rare disease known as sarcoidosis, which led to heart  failure and caused potentially fatal arrhythmias. Doctors placed him on  medication and gave him a defibrillator to help regulate his heart rhythms.   However, on March 30, while undergoing a procedure to change out the defibrillator, Orlando was struck by a life-threatening arrhythmia. Doctors placed him on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), which takes over  the function of the heart and the lungs, and quickly made arrangements to  perform their first implant of the Total Artificial Heart to save his life.

“The Total Artificial Heart leads to recovery of organ  function in the most critically ill patients, allowing for a heart  transplant when the patient is more stable – which ultimately helps achieve  better outcomes following transplantation,” said Dr. Massey… read more at


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