Showing: 1 - 2 of 2 RESULTS

Tennessee doctors removed a man’s heart to save his life

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – In an extraordinary operation, a Mississippi man’s heart was removed and replaced with what Baptist Memorial Hospital doctors call a “total artificial heart” — battery-charged electromechanical devices that will keep the 41-year-old man’s blood pumping until a heart transplant can be arranged.



a person wearing a hat: Heart patient Brian Pedigo sits on a hospital bed at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. Pedigo's heart was replaced with two ventricular assist devices and a breast implant.


© Ariel Cobbert/The Commercial Appeal
Heart patient Brian Pedigo sits on a hospital bed at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. Pedigo’s heart was replaced with two ventricular assist devices and a breast implant.

Wearing a surgical-style mask decorated with an American flag and the motto “United We Stand,” artificial heart recipient Brian Pedigosaid Wednesday that his life since his first heart attack —which came “11 days before my 33rd birthday” — had been a constant struggle with heart disease, including a “massive” 2017 heart attack and the almost complete bodily shutdown that led to his Sept. 3 surgery at Baptist.

“I was close to giving up,” said Pedigo, who lives in Booneville, about 115 miles southeast off Memphis, with his wife, Amy Pedigo, their two dogs, Remington and Angel, and a pot-bellied pig named Sassy Mae, nicknamed Sassy Pants. (“She talks back to Brian, that’s why I call her Sassy Pants,” Amy explained.)

Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

Fortunately, the artificial heart — essentially, a pair of pumps that replace the removed ventricles of the heart  — has given Pedigo a new lease on life, literally.

“I feel great,” said Pedigo, sitting on the edge of a hospital bed. Unsurprisingly, he looked thin and sounded hoarse. “For the last eight years, I’ve fought, gone down and come back,” he said.



a man wearing glasses posing for the camera: Dr. Dmitry Yaranov, Pedigo's primary cardiologist at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020.


© Ariel Cobbert/ The Commercial Appeal
Dr. Dmitry Yaranov, Pedigo’s primary cardiologist at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020.

Dr. Dmitry Yaranov, Pedigo’s primary cardiologist at Baptist, said only about 15 operations of the type that saved Pedigo have been performed in history.

“This is the most complex, the rarest and the highest-risk operation a heart patient can go through,” he said. 

Also, “the most technically challenging,” said Dr. Rachel Harrison, the surgeon who performed the operation with Dr. Martin Strueber, Baptist chief of cardiac surgery and thoracic transplantation.

“It’s a very unconventional approach,” said Michelle Lorenz, administrative director of transplant services at Baptist. “But we had to do it to save his life.”

Pedigo had been receiving treatment in Corinth, Mississippi, before doctors there sent him to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. From there, he came to Memphis, where his failing health called for extreme measures. 



a person sitting on a table: Dr. Rachel Harrison, the surgeon who performed the operation with Dr. Martin Strueber, goes over a diagram of heart patient Brian Pedigo's surgery at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. Pedigo's heart was replaced with two ventricular assist devices and a breast implant.


© Ariel Cobbert/ The Commercial Appeal
Dr. Rachel Harrison, the surgeon who performed the operation with Dr. Martin Strueber, goes over a diagram of heart patient Brian Pedigo’s surgery at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. Pedigo’s heart was replaced with two ventricular assist devices and a breast implant.

“His lungs were no longer oxygenating his blood,” Harrison said. “His liver was

Blackburn Maintains She Wears Masks, Urges Others to Do So | Tennessee News

By KIMBERLEE KRUESI, Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn maintained Tuesday that she regularly wears masks after being photographed without a face covering at a recent White House event where multiple attendees have since tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Tennessee Republican was at the White House on Sept. 26 when President Donald Trump announced the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. She attended as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is set to begin the confirmation hearing next week.

Those present were largely outdoors, but they sat shoulder to shoulder with barely a mask in sight — including Blackburn. Several participants later said they tested positive for the virus, ranging from President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, some senators and the president of the University of Notre Dame.

“I had my mask on. I had worn it over there when I was seated, I had taken my mask off while I was seated there and as I got up to leave I put my mask back on,” Blackburn said in a virtual call with reporters.

Blackburn, 68, had also traveled with Trump ahead of the Sept. 29 debate. However, despite being exposed to the virus, Blackburn said the recent events have not changed her behavior.

“Most of our work has been done virtually,” she said. “It really has not changed in how we’re working. We’re careful, we’re watchful, we’re tested regularly.”

Blackburn added the last time she tested negative for the virus was on Sunday. She stressed that along with wearing a mask, she also regularly dons face shields and gloves to protect herself from COVID-19.

Trump has sparked criticism for advising by tweet and video not to fear COVID-19, a disease that has resulted in more than 210,000 deaths in the U.S.

“Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate your life,” Trump tweeted.

Likewise, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said that seeing the outbreak at the White House isn’t changing his approach. The Republican has stressed the importance of masks and said he wears one every day, though he has been spotted at some events where he and others are unmasked.

“My behavior really hasn’t changed as a result of someone else’s diagnosis,” Lee told reporters Tuesday. “I’ve taken it seriously. I will continue to do so and make decisions to protect myself and my family and to protect the loved ones around me.”

Blackburn avoided questions on whether she agreed with president that the public should not be afraid of the disease. Instead, she encouraged Tennesseans to be mindful and careful to protect themselves.

The governor, meanwhile, said being afraid is the wrong approach.

“I don’t think we should be afraid of it,” Lee said. “I think we should respect it appropriately and make decisions as such.”

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people