Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital is celebrating what it says is New England's first total artificial heart implant.
The patient is 66-year-old James Carelli Jr., a former Braintree school teacher and track coach who retired in 2004. The 10-hour procedure was performed in February.
In its release, the hospital said Carelli needs the mechanical heart to pump blood and keep him alive as he waits for a human heart donation.
"If I didn't have this device, I would not be here," Carelli said at a hospital news conference Thursday, according to the Associated Press.
Corelli, the hospital said, was diagnosed last year "with amyloidosis of the heart, a rare disease in which a protein that normally circulates in the blood is deposited in the heart muscle, causing the heart to thicken and weaken, limiting circulation and vital organs begin to fail."
The hospital says Corelli's health has improved markedly since the procedure. The AP adds:
While he walks on a treadmill now, Carelli says he'd probably be outside running if he wasn't attached to a machine that pumps the device in his chest.
Corelli is still awaiting a kidney transplant, as well.
Brigham adds that its doctors performed the first heart transplant in New England in 1984.
This article was originally published on June 21, 2012.
This program aired on June 21, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.