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Ed Yeates ReportingThey say two hearts beat as one, but in Mark Enger's case, that's really what's happening inside his body right now in order to keep him alive.
The Utes didn't play a winning game Saturday night, but a 51-year old Montana man, who was there watching, is a winner in his own right. Mark Enger, his wife Teresa, and their eight-year old son, Michael, were invited into the President's Box because of the way this husband and father skirted death. He's being kept alive with not just one, but two artificial hearts.
For most people awaiting a real heart transplant, it's only one artificial heart, the LVAD. But in Mark's case, he's got two - one external for one side of the heart - the other implanted for the other side of the heart.
Joanne Carlson, Nurse Practitioner, U of U Artificial Heart Program: "His illness affected both sides of his heart. So we implanted one, but it was not enough. So we had to go back and implant the second one, which is on the right side."
Though they're two different artificial hearts, both pump in synchronization. When Mark arrived for the surgery at University Hospital he was at death's door.
Mark Enger, Recipient: "So I’m back up and running again, and once again, I’m just a fortunate person."
Mark's son only remembered how his dad looked when they rushed him to Salt Lake City. So when he saw him again before the game?
Michael Enger, Mark's Son: "Sort of when I walked down the hall and saw him at the airport, I just didn't recognize him."
Joanne Carlson: "Now I can barely keep up with him. He's walking rapidly. He's active. He's got a great appetite and as you can see, his color is much, much better."
Mark will keep his two synthetic hearts only until he gets a real heart transplant. After that he intends to go hiking with Michael.
Over the next twenty years, Joanne Carlson predicts a whole population of older people with implants - some permanently.
Both University and LDS Hospitals are fully involved in artificial heart programs.