Teen learning to live with mechanical heart

August 30, 2011 5:26:15 PM PDT
In July, we told you the story of a teenager who had to be given an artificial heart to save his life. Now that young man is strong enough to go home and he's talking about what his life has been like attached by a three-foot cord to a battery. Jordan Merecka really wanted to win his pool game but then he's a little out of practice. He's been in the hospital for five months. And he plays pool wearing a backpack that holds the battery for his artificial heart.

"It's probably less than half the size of my regular backpack," he said.

You can hear his mechanical heart pumping in the background. The whole unit weight 13 pounds. Last week, he was tied to a 400-pound console.

"The biggest thing is I can actually close the bathroom door all the way," he said.

Jordan has learned how to charge, change and care for his heart batteries. He even has a car charger for his heart.

"My parents aren't used to me being able to unplug and just walk off," he said.

Jordan's heart failed in May, and there was no human heart available for a transplant. To save his life, Texas Children's Hosptial surgeons removed his heart and replaced it with a man-made pump.

"He looks amazing. It's just a blessing to see him come back to his old self," said his mother, Suzanne Merecka.

On Wednesday Jordan is scheduled to go home. He'll be the first person to leave Texas Children's with a mechanical heart. And with every beat, it's making him stronger for his trip back to the hospital to get a human heart.

"It's just God's timing. Whenever He decides it's my time, I'll get my heart," Jordan said.

When Jordan goes home, he will be the first person to leave Texas Children's with an aritficial heart, and only the second person in Houston to live outside the hospital with a mechanical heart. Three other people are alive because of a mechanical heart, but they are still in the hospital at Texas Heart Institute.

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