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Donation Heart Ribbon

San Diego Man Gets Second Heart

A San Diego man is recovering today following a rare type of surgery at Thornton Hospital that left him with two beating hearts, UC San Diego Health Sciences officials announced today.

A donor heart was implanted on Sunday to supplement 36-year-old Tyson Smith's own heart, which was failing but was kept in his body.

Smith could not have a standard heart transplant because resistance to blood flow in his lungs would have caused the donor heart to fail, said Dr. Michael Madani.

"But together, the two hearts share the work and get the job done,'' the surgery professor said.

The procedure, called heterotopic heart transplantation, is rarely performed but has an average survival rate of 10 years, said Dr. Jack Copeland, director of cardiac transplantation and mechanical circulatory support at UC San Diego Health System.

Smith, who lives in Talmadge, is expected to be discharged in two weeks and return to a normal level of activity in a few months, his doctors said.

"I can tell that I am getting stronger every day,'' Smith said.

In the procedure, the new heart was positioned on the right side of Smith's own heart.

The donor and Smith's left atria were attached to each other, allowing bright red, oxygenated blood in the patient's original heart to flow to the new heart, which would then pump it into his aorta, increasing the flow to the rest of the body.

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