Arrow LionHeart patient marks one year with device

May 13, 2004

Hershey, Pa. -- Gayle Snider, the first U.S. patient to go home from the hospital with the Arrow LionHeart, will mark one year with the heart assist device on Friday, May 14.

Snider, the longest-surviving U.S. patient with the device, has had few complications, has gained weight, and has been smoke-free since receiving the LionHeart last year. He continues monthly appointments with his cardiologist John P. Boehmer and surgeon, Walter E. Pae, both of the Penn State Cardiovascular Center, Hershey Medical Center.

"It's hard to believe it's been a year," Snider said. "Although I haven't had any surprises and have grown comfortable with the device and the few changes I've had to make in my life since I had the surgery, I'm very excited about the next step -- getting a heart transplant. I probably wouldn't have had a chance to get a transplant without the LionHeart, because I probably wouldn't be here."

Since the implant of the LionHeart, Snider has been to the beach with family and friends and to the Dover Downs racetrack in Delaware for a NASCAR event. He has shoveled snow, been out with friends and taken part in many other activities.

"Gayle's success with the device is certainly what we'd hoped and expected, and we celebrate this one-year milestone with him," said Boehmer, associate professor of medicine, Penn State Cardiovascular Center. "Gayle has taken important steps to improve his health, including quitting smoking, and the device has provided superb support allowing him to gain strength."

Due to his improved condition, Snider, a 36-year-old man from York, was added back to the heart transplant waiting list in January.

The Arrow LionHeart, a totally implantable heart-assist device conceived of and developed at Penn State College of Medicine in conjunction with Arrow International, Reading, does not replace the natural heart but helps the heart's left ventricle. The LionHeart is the first totally implantable left ventricular assist device capable of taking over the entire workload of the left ventricle. Energy from an external battery pack is transmitted across the intact skin to power the system and charge the implanted battery. Although the LionHeart is intended as a long-term therapy for patients with end-stage heart failure who are not candidates for heart transplantation, some patients whose health improves markedly may become eligible for transplant.

Although the Arrow LionHeart is appropriate only for adult patients, researchers at Penn State College of Medicine recently received a $5 million award from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to develop a child-sized pediatric heart assist device. For more information, visit

In Nov. 7, 2003, Arrow International announced that it received authorization from its European Notified Body, TUV Product Services of Munich, Germany, to CE-mark the Arrow LionHeart, based on the results of the European trial headed by Pae. The CE-mark provides authorization to market the device within the European Economic Area for permanent implantation, commonly termed "destination therapy" or "alternative to medical therapy," and is the first left ventricular assist system to receive such authorization.

The results of the first study of the Arrow LionHeart, which took place in Europe from October 1999 to December 2003, were unveiled by Boehmer and Pae on Nov. 9, 2003, at the American Heart Association's 76th Annual Scientific Sessions conference. They showed low incidence of infection and few device failures.

Penn State College of Medicine has a long history of heart device development dating to the 1970s when William S. Pierce started his groundbreaking research in artificial organ development. The technology behind Arrow LionHeart was developed by Penn State Hershey Medical Center's multidisciplinary team from the Division of Artificial Organs led by Gerson Rosenberg. This is the first heart assist device to reach clinical trial that is powered by wireless electric transmission. This allows the system to be totally implantable, giving patients freedom to take part in a broader range of activities and live an improved quality of life. For more information, visit

For photos, visit

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009