Chayrez Suffers Possible Minor Stroke
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) _ A woman who has been on an artificial heart since February suffered a possible minor stroke this week, causing a slight slurring in her speech and weakness in her left hand, her doctor said today.
But Bernadette Chayrez, 40, has had no further symptoms since Monday’s brief neurological event, said Dr. Jack Copeland, the heart surgeon who heads the transplant-implant team at University Medical Center.
Ms. Chayrez has had two implants of the mini-Jarvik 7 artificial heart since her own organ was destroyed by a virus. The first time, the mechanical heart was replaced by a donor heart, but her body rejected it and she was returned to a mechanical heart awaiting a new transplant.
Copeland said: ″It was a minor event which lasted for only a short period. There was certain drooping of the facial muscles on the left side and weakness in the left hand, as well.″
″Her speech is normal and there is only slight indication of any weakness of the facial muscles,″ he said. ″Her left-hand weakness has nearly disappeared.″
He said there have been no conclusive results from a CT (computerized tomography) scan given Monday as to the type or cause of the neurological episode, and said another scan would be given in a few days.
″Ms. Chayrez is doing well and continues in serious but stable condition,″ he said.
University Medical Center has searched the country in recent months for a suitable donor heart to replace the mini-Jarvik heart that has kept the Phoenix woman alive, but so far the search has been unsuccessful.
Ms. Chayrez is the only person to twice undergo artificial heart implants. Her second implant, like the first, was intended to act as a short-term ″bridge″ until an appropriate donor organ could be found, but a series of complications, including internal bleeding and infections, have forced her to stay on the mechanical heart longer than doctors had anticipated.