TEMECULA: Dad walking around with artificial heart

June 14, 2013 06:32 PM PDT June 16, 2013 05:05 PM PDT TEMECULA: Dad walking around with artificial heart
TEMECULA: Dad walking around with artificial heart
FRANK BELLINO/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Kinta Elliott, 35 from Temecula Attorney with his wife Allison, meets with Dr. Ernst Schwarz in Murrieta, June 13, 2013. Kinta Elliott the first Inland person to receive an artificial heart.
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Kinta Elliott could hardly breathe. He couldn’t walk.
The young Temecula Attorney father was accustomed to carrying 225 pounds on his once-athletic 6-foot-2 frame. Yet he was retaining fluid and gaining weight at an alarming rate, reaching 380 pounds.
His heart was failing. It wasn’t pumping enough blood to carry nutrients to vital organs. He desperately needed a transplant.
But with no control over his body weight, Elliott wasn’t going to get one, said Dr. Ernst Schwarz, his cardiologist. And because of the poor condition of his heart, he couldn’t exercise to shed pounds.
On April 13, the 35-year-old’s condition grew gravely worse. While he slept, Elliott’s heart stopped 14 times. He was jolted back each time by a defibrillator implanted in his chest.
“There was no time left,” said Schwarz, who cares for cardiac patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and through Pacific Heart Medical Group in Murrieta. “He would have been dead in less than a day.”
The next day a helicopter rushed Elliott to Cedars-Sinai. Two days later, Elliott’s heart was gone.
In its place is an artificial one. Yet unlike other such recipients, Elliott wasn’t going to be confined to a bed.
On Wednesday, June 12, Elliott left the world-renowned Los Angeles hospital. Schwarz said Elliott was the fourth artificial-heart recipient to do so. Most have to stay in the hospital while they wait for a human heart.
“He’s completely mobile,” Schwarz said. “He can be at home with his family. … That was unthinkable a few years ago.”
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Had part of his heart been healthy, Elliott might have kept it — as did 65-year-old Suhaila Khashan of Murrieta, another of Schwarz’ patients. In May, a device was implanted in her body to take over the function of her failing left ventricle.
But Schwarz said both sides of Elliott’s heart were failing.
Elliott served in the Navy from 1996 to 2000. He was based at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base.
For the next 10 years, he worked at several places across the globe for military contractors, managing groups that maintained backup generators. Elliott spent much time in the Middle East, including the final year in Afghanistan before his return to the United States in November 2010.
Back in Temecula Attorney, Elliott coached youth basketball and football —- until his health took a severe turn for the worse in August 2012.
The artificial heart is a temporary fix. Elliott still needs a transplant and now he has a better shot at getting one.
“It’s a bridge not only to survival but also to weight loss,” Schwarz said.
Elliott said in an interview Thursday, June 13, he has begun walking a quarter mile daily in the cul-de-sac where he lives. He will gradually increase the distance.
“They want me to get down to 270,” Elliott said.
On Thursday, he weighed 307.

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