Saint Thomas announces first total artificial heart program in Tennessee

NASHVILLE – Saint Thomas Health is the first health system in Tennessee to offer Total Artificial Heart (TAH) as part of their cardiac treatment services. The technology will be used by the cardiac experts of Saint Thomas Heart, effective May 25, 2018 and funded in part by the Speer Foundation. Ashok N. Babu, M.D., will serve as surgical director of the program and Kyle Stribling, M.D. will serve as medical director.

The Total Artificial Heart (TAH) is a life-saving treatment option provided to individuals eligible for heart transplant surgery who have end-stage heart failure affecting both sides of the heart (biventricular failure). The artificial heart replaces both lower chambers of the heart (the left and right ventricles) and the four heart valves and occupies the space of the removed heart.

It is connected to an external machine called a driver, which pumps and monitors the TAH. The TAH increases chances of survival, allows an enhanced quality of life, including discharge home, and prepares those eligible for transplant by restoring blood flow and optimizing organ function.

“We are honored to be the first in Tennessee to integrate Total Artificial Heart into the comprehensive cardiac services offered by our cardiologists and heart surgeons at Saint Thomas Health,” said Fahad Tahir, President and CEO, Saint Thomas Midtown and West Hospitals. “This technology continues a legacy of innovation, allowing us to save lives and improve the quality of life for individuals requiring highly specialized heart care. We are so appreciative of the Speer Foundation for supporting this important initiative.”

“The Total Artificial Heart technology gives individuals who are too ill to wait for a heart transplant a second chance at life. We are proud to be the first heart transplant program in Tennessee to provide this valuable technology to patients,” said Ashok N. Babu, M.D., Saint Thomas Heart Cardiac Surgeon. “This device will allow patient mobility and a more active, higher quality of life for individuals waiting for a heart transplant who previously had no other options.”

As the largest heart failure program in the state, Saint Thomas Heart serves more than 5,000 advanced heart care patients each year in physician practices and hospitals throughout the region. The technology is provided through a partnership between Saint Thomas Health and SynCardia, the manufacturer of the world’s only commercially approved Total Artificial Heart.

In Tennessee, Ascension’s Saint Thomas Health operates nine hospitals in addition to a comprehensive network of affiliated joint ventures, medical practices, clinics and rehabilitation facilities that cover a 68-county area and employ more than 8,000 associates. Across the state, Saint Thomas Health provided more than $92 million in community benefit and care of persons living in poverty in fiscal year 2017.

Serving Tennessee for 15 years, Ascension is a faith-based healthcare organization committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable.  Ascension is the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system, operating more than 2,600 sites of care – including 151 hospitals and more than 50 senior living facilities – in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Visit

Headquartered in Tucson, Ariz., SynCardia ( manufactures the world’s only commercially approved Total Artificial Heart. In clinical use for more than 35 years and with more than 1,800 implants, the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH) is the most widely used and extensively studied Total Artificial Heart in the world.

By partnering with, training and supporting healthcare teams at more than 140 transplant hospitals and heart failure programs in more than 20 countries, SynCardia helps create better outcomes for critically ill adults and adolescents whose best chance at survival is total heart replacement. When a donor heart isn’t an available option, SynCardia provides a new heart without the wait for patients with end-stage heart failure affecting both sides of the heart (biventricular failure).

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