Tennessee Farmer, Saved by the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart, Returns to Virginia to Complete 25th Anniversary Vacation

Tennessee Farmer, Saved by the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart, Returns to Virginia to Complete 25th Anniversary Vacation

One year later, Jack and Mary Jones stop to thank Sentara Heart Hospital staff who saved Jack in 2013 with the SynCardia Heart, which bridged him to a donor heart transplant.

Jack Jones reunites with therapy dog Jack, who visited Jones many times while he was in Sentara Heart Hospital last year waiting for his matching donor heart transplant. Jones was implanted with the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart, which bridged him to a heart transplant.

Jack and Mary Jones rode bicycles to Sentara Heart Hospital on their return trip to Virginia to complete the vacation that was interrupted in 2013 when Jack suffered a heart attack.

Jack Jones plays the role of merchant at the October 2014 Possum Branch Backwoodsmen’s annual rendezvous on his and wife, Mary’s, Tennessee farm. They missed last year’s gathering while he was on the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart waiting for a matching donor heart transplant in Norfolk, Virginia.

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TUCSON, Ariz., Oct. 22, 2014 /3BL Media/ – When Jack and Mary Jones first showed up at Sentara Heart Hospital on July 21, 2013, Jack was unconscious, fighting for his life after suffering a heart attack. It was the first day of the couple’s vacation to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.

In July 2014 Jack and Mary went back to Virginia where they started their trip. It was a year later to the day. They took their bicycles to tour parts of Norfolk and rode their bicycles to Sentara Hospital to thank as much of the staff as they could for taking such good care of Jack.

Jack says that the implantation the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart by Sentara saved his life through bridging him to a donor heart transplant. After a few days they drove off to finish their delayed vacation through the state.

Learn more through our multimedia release about Jack’s experience with heart failure and catch up with what the couple has done after his donor heart transplant.

In July 2013, Jack didn’t realize he was suffering from heart failure when the couple started their anniversary vacation. “I didn’t know I felt bad,” Jack says nearly 11 months after he received his heart transplant. “Looking back at some pictures I realized I was in worse shape than I thought I was.”

Mary agreed. “That first trip he really wasn’t feeling well. He was tired and slept in the car.”

Jack continued to feel worse that first night and was unable to sleep. Mary rushed him to a nearby hospital, where doctors tried angioplasty to open Jack’s clogged heart arteries. But that was not enough.

That day he was rushed by ambulance to Sentara, where the Joneses learned he was suffering from end-stage biventricular heart failure, in which the heart’s two ventricles can no longer pump enough blood for the patient to survive.

Mary with the council of Sentara surgeons and physicians made the decision to implant the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart. Jack was fitted with the Freedom® portable driver, which powers the SynCardia Heart, 57 days after the July 24 implant. The 13.5-pound portable driver allowed Jack to do cardio rehabilitation and walk around the hospital, getting him stronger for his heart transplant.

Jack received his matching donor heart November 13, 2013. “The SynCardia Total Artificial Heart made my recovery that much better,” Jack remembers. “It helped me when I got my actual transplant.” Jack and Mary finally got to go back to their home in Greenbrier, Tennessee, December 13, 2013.

They’ve resumed their lives: Mary working as an accountant and Jack farming and tending to the wildlife on more than 500 acres of land they call Dry Creek Farms where he hunts deer, quail and turkey.

For their return trip to Virginia, the couple saw sights around Norfolk that Jack missed while he was hospitalized. They saw almost all of the hospital staff that were part of their care, from the surgeons to the parking valet. They reunited with the therapy dog, also named Jack, that kept human Jack company in the hospital. They did almost everything they originally wanted to “and a tad more,” says Jack recalls.

In October of 2014 they were able to again host their annual 1790s living history event on the farm where guests set up encampments, dress in period costumes and shoot flintlock rifles.

Jack says his experience has made him look at life differently. “You appreciate life a lot more, start paying a lot more attention to details. I don’t want to procrastinate. There’s so much I want to do and experience. It’s time to get started on it.”

Reflecting back on the summer of 2013, Mary and Jack marvel at how a last-minute change in their vacation plans put them closer to a SynCardia Certified Center where a SynCardia Heart would be immediately available.

“We were about in the only place in the area where he would come out alive,” says Mary. “The SynCardia Total Artificial Heart is invaluable. It is hope and it’s a chance, a very viable chance, at life.”

Jack says having the SynCardia Heart got him to where he is today. “Look at me,” he says. “The bottom line is it worked for me. I hope that someday it will be available to everyone in every state.”


SynCardia Systems, Inc. in Tucson, Arizona is the privately-held owner and manufacturer of the world's first and only FDA, Health Canada and CE approved Total Artificial Heart.

Originally used as a permanent replacement heart, the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart is currently approved as a bridge to transplant for people suffering from end-stage biventricular heart failure in which both ventricles can no longer pump enough blood for a person to survive.

More than 1,350 implants of the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart accounts for over 400 patient years of life on the device. Since January 2011 more than 400 SynCardia Hearts have been implanted.

SynCardia Systems also manufactures the Freedom® portable driver, which powers the SynCardia Heart while allowing clinically stable patients to leave the hospital to live at home and in their communities. The wearable Freedom driver has been used by over 190 patients, accounting for over 110 years of support.


Don Isaacs
+1 (520) 955-0660
SynCardia Systems, Inc.