DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – This Thanksgiving, a North Carolina family is thankful for a new chance at life for a husband and father. Over the summer, Matthew Moore became the first person in the United States to receive a new generation artificial heart. It is designed to keep him alive until he could get a transplant. Duke surgeons performed that transplant this week.
The hospital may not sound like the perfect place to spend Thanksgiving, but it is exactly where the Moore family wants to be.
Moore experienced heart failure in June. The condition was so severe his heart stopped multiple times. He spent months at Duke Hospital where he became the first person in the country to receive a new generation artificial heart as part of a clinical trial.
“It actually functioned exactly how it was supposed to,” explained Dr. Jacob Schroder, the surgical director of the heart transplant program at Duke.
The device wasn’t meant to be permanent. It enabled Moore to go home to spend time with his wife, Rachel, and son and get strong enough for a transplant.
“H actually got in better shape, and that was really critical,” Schroder said. “The stronger you go into any big operation, the stronger you’re going to come out.”
After about four months with device, the Moores returned to Duke.
“We came in and it was almost like a family reunion,” said Rachel Moore.
Three days before Thanksgiving, doctors replaced the artificial heart with a donor heart.
“Going forward, Thanksgiving is going to have a totally different meaning for us,” said Moore.
After spending this holiday in the hospital, the family hopes to be home with their son well before Christmas.
Schroder said Moore’s experience is a promising sign for the artificial heart.
“Until we do larger trials with the device, we won’t really know, but I think the results and how easy it was for everybody speaks volumes to the future of this device,” he noted.
The family is thankful for the technology, the medical team, and especially the donor for giving Matthew a chance to live a full life.
“We will never be able to say thank you enough to the donor to his family,” Moore said. “Making the decision to be an organ donor is the most selfless act that anyone can do, and it is also selfless of the family in their time of grieving.”
She added: “One day, we would love to be able to tell whoever that family is, ‘Look at what you’ve provided. You’ve provided my husband, hopefully, years to come. You’ve provided our son with his daddy.’ There will never be words.”
They may not have words, but they will always have gratitude.