Younger of 2 Brothers on the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart Gets a Donor Heart Transplant

Mar 3, 2015 10:15 AM ET
Brothers Stan and Dominique Larkin both received the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart to save them from life-threatening genetic heart disease. One is home with his donor heart; the other is home with his SynCardia Heart waiting for his donor heart.


March 3, 2015 /3BL Media/ - Michigan brothers Dominique Larkin, 23, and Stan, 24, share an inherited heart condition called arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, or ARVD, a disease that causes irregular heart rhythms. ARVD is a leading cause of sudden death among young athletes.

In 2007, doctors discovered the condition in Stan when he collapsed at a basketball game. They later tested Dominique and found his “condition was just as bad as his brother’s,” according to a February 19, 2015 story in The Ann Arbor News, part of the MLive Media Group in Michigan.

Go in-depth into Stan and Dominique's story.

Over the years both of their heart conditions declined. All other treatments did not stop the advance of their ARVD. Doctors at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center first admitted Stan and then Dominique in the fall of 2014.

On November 7, 2014, Stan received the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart, which is used as a bridge to a donor heart transplant for patients with end-stage biventricular (both sides) heart failure. That’s a condition in which the native heart’s two ventricles can no longer pump enough blood for a patient to survive.

Dominique received his SynCardia Heart implant on December 11, 2014.

Like a heart transplant, the Total Artificial Heart is the only approved device that eliminates the source of end-stage biventricular heart failure. The SynCardia Heart helps patients recover and regain their health and strength in advance of donor heart transplants.

When each became clinically stable, they received the 13.5-pound Freedom® portable driver, which powers the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart. It provides nearly unlimited mobility and allows patients to be discharged from the hospital to wait for their matching donor hearts at home and in their communities.

That’s what happened with Stan, who left the medical center December 23, 2014 as the first patient in Michigan to be discharged from the hospital without a human heart.

Dominique was given the Freedom portable driver on January 18, 2015. Four days later he received a matching donor heart transplant, according to the newspaper. Following recovery from his transplant surgery, he was discharged home.

Dominique told the newspaper that he feels bad that his older brother continues to wait for a donor heart. “I want both of us to be in top shape,” he’s quoted as saying. “I wish we could’ve gone through all of this together…with each other.”

Their shared battle against genetic heart disease have kept them close. Stan was at Dominique’s side as much as possible after the transplant and they continue to share their experiences, the newspaper says.

“We keep in contact every day,” Dominique is quoted as saying. “If anybody knows my experience, he knows it closely.”

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About the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart
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 for use 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 1,400 implants of the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart account for over 400 patient years of life on the device. Since January 2010 more than 550 SynCardia Hearts have been implanted.

The youngest patient to receive a SynCardia Heart was 9 years old; the oldest was 80 years old. The longest a patient has lived with a SynCardia Heart was nearly four years (1,374 days) before receiving a successful donor heart transplant Sept. 11, 2011.

SynCardia Systems also manufactures the Freedom® portable driver, which powers the SynCardia Heart while allowing clinically stable patients to be discharged from the hospital to live at home and in their communities. The wearable Freedom driver has been used by more than 200 patients, accounting for over 130 years of support.