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If you live in Oklahoma your chance of winning an Oscar is likely one in a million, but your chance of developing heart disease or heart failure is much higher. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Oklahoma, we have the third highest cardiovascular death rate in the country.

INTEGRIS Hosts Oscars for Oklahomans Living with Heart Pumps

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 28, 2018) – If you live in Oklahoma your chance of winning an Oscar is likely one in a million, but your chance of developing heart disease or heart failure is much higher. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Oklahoma, we have the third highest cardiovascular death rate in the country.

In 2008, James Long, M.D., Ph.D., cardio thoracic surgeon, moved to Oklahoma with the sole purpose of improving these numbers and the heart health of our citizens. He and Douglas Hortsmanshof, M.D., heart failure cardiologist, helped establish the Advanced Cardiac Care program at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center with that very goal in mind.

Today, thanks to their efforts, Oklahomans have access to the best, leading-edge therapies available anywhere in the world including a wide variety of mechanical circulatory support devices and heart transplant. Tens of thousands of people in the United States have been implanted with these devices, with nearly 500 of those implants taking place right here at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center.

Augustus Harbert of Tulsa is our longest living mechanical heart pump patient to date. Gus is approaching his 10th anniversary with a left ventricular assist device, known as an LVAD. The longest living LVAD patient in the country has lived twelve years with his device, and counting.

“By all medical accounts, Gus Harbert should not be alive today. What we are witnessing is the marvel of modern medicine,” declares Long. “Gus was the first person we implanted when I came to Oklahoma and he is not only surviving but thriving with this technology.”

In March 2008, a then 30-year-old Harbert was given a second chance at life. Diagnosed with an enlarged heart, or cardiomyopathy, Harbert’s heart was unable to pump enough blood through his body. His condition was rapidly deteriorating. His doctors knew his days were numbered, so they sent him to Oklahoma City.

The newly established Advanced Cardiac Care team at INTEGRIS successfully implanted Harbert with an LVAD. Connected to the left ventricle of the heart and attached to the aorta, the LVAD takes over the function of circulating blood that the heart can no longer perform.

Gus received the first generation LVAD – called the HeartMate XVE, on March 12, 2008. Less than a year later, in February 2009, his XVE was upgraded to the current HeartMate II model that he is living with today. He continues to strive toward transplantation, as he lives a high quality life working and taking care of his son in Tulsa, Okla.

Gus credits the device for giving him ten additional years. “I was dying, that’s God’s honest truth. My son, Cameron, was only two years old at the time. He had his whole life ahead of him and I likely wasn’t going to be in it, without a miracle. The LVAD was my miracle. I feel great today and lead a pretty normal life. I am 40 years old now and my son is 12 and we’re looking forward to many, many more years together thanks to INTEGRIS and the Advanced Cardiac Care team.”

To celebrate Harbert’s story and the successes of many other Oklahomans living with mechanical circulatory support devices, INTEGRIS is hosting an Oscar themed party in their honor. Gus and a host of other survivors are expected to attend the special event.

DATE:            Friday, March 9, 2018

TIME:             6:00 to 9:30 p.m.

PLACE:          Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association

                        420 E. Britton Road, Oklahoma City, OK 73114

INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center is the only center in Oklahoma to offer a full spectrum of advanced cardiac care support to include ECMO, LVAD, total artificial heart and transplantation. We are the only health care system in the state that can offer Oklahomans all of these options.