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Spokane grandfather one of 10 in U.S. with Total Artificial Heart after successful surgery

After 100 days in the Sacred Heart Medical Center Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Greg Soumokil returned home in May.
Credit: Providence Health Care

SPOKANE, Wash. — A Spokane grandfather is one of only ten people in the nation who currently has a Total Artificial Heart (TAH).

Greg Soumokil was in the Sacred Heart Medical Center Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for 100 days before the successful, innovative surgery allowed him to return home.

Soumokil is battling end-stage heart failure and doctors at SHMC turned to the SynCardia TAH procedure when common treatments wouldn’t be enough to keep Greg alive until a donor heart transplant came through.

According to a press release from Providence Health Care, the artificial heart replaces the lower ventricles that pump blood to the body. Unlike other mechanical circulatory support devices, the SynCardia TAH replaces both sides of the failing heart. A portable driver small enough to fit inside a backpack powers the artificial heart, which gives discharged patients more freedom.

In February, cardiac surgeon Dr. Cristy Smith, assisted by Dr. Dennis Nichols, opted for innovation in the form of the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart (TAH). Smith previously trained with the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart’s inventor, Dr. Jack G. Copeland, in Arizona.

Credit: Providence Health Care
Greg Soumokil celebrates his successful surgery and return home with his medical staff.

“Greg’s progress is exciting and we are so happy to see him go home to spend time with his family. Our team is humbled by this opportunity to perform such an innovative procedure and to be a part of Greg’s life in this way,” Smith said.

Soumokil is currently waiting for a combined heart and kidney transplant, which will take place at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center when the organs become available. Until his organ match, he’ll be enjoying time at home with his wife, grandkids, and dogs.