Tom Christerson

Died February 7th, 2003

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The longest-living recipient of a self-contained artificial heart died Friday after nearly 17 months with the plastic-and-titanium device pumping in his chest.

Tom Christerson was 71 and died at Jewish Hospital. He became the second recipient of the AbioCor artificial heart in a surgery Sept. 13, 2001. Two other recent recipients of the device remain alive.

When he received the device, Christerson was given little chance of surviving more than a month with his own failing heart.

"I didn't have any idea it would last this long," Christerson said in September as his one-year anniversary approached.

Picked by I.M. Balm.