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Artificial heart patient dies at Ky. hospital



Published: Sun, February 9, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Artificial heart patientdies at Ky. hospital

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- 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.

The artificial heart is powered by batteries. It has no wires or tubes sticking through the skin, a technological leap from earlier mechanical hearts that were attached to machinery outside the body.

A statement from the hospital said the cause of death was the "wearout of an internal membrane." Doctors noticed a change in the device two days before, and by Friday morning it was evident that the device would not keep working.

Support for peace pact

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- President Laurent Gbagbo urged his war-divided country Friday to give a peace accord a chance, dismissing fears by some supporters that it gives too much power to rebels.

He told supporters who have staged days of often-violent demonstrations against the French-brokered agreement to "try this medicine."

"If we get better, then we keep it. If not, we try something else," Gbagbo said on national television,

Gbagbo's repeatedly postponed speech had been tensely awaited since he returned from France, where the accord was signed Jan. 24 after days of negotiations between government and rebel representatives at Marcoussis, near Paris.

Crooked coroner jailed

LONDON -- A lawyer in northern England who stole more than $245,000 from the estates of dead clients was sentenced Friday to three-and-a-half years in jail.

Jeremy Cave, 53, was found guilty of six counts of theft between 1990 and 2000.

Prosecutors said Cave, who was also a coroner for the county of North Yorkshire, stole from the estates of clients. They said he "grossly overcharged" the families of the dead, sending bills for much more than his work was worth.

Cave told jurors he had overcharged through incompetence rather than dishonesty, but he was convicted of stealing a total of $252,764 from six estates.

Police rescue hostages

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- A passenger claiming to have a bomb held two flight attendants hostage aboard a plane at Istanbul airport Friday before police stormed the aircraft and freed them.

Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu said no one was injured. The hostage-taker, a Turkish citizen identified by police as Ali Ilker Urbak, was being questioned by anti-terrorism police.

The 28-year-old man held what was he said were dynamite sticks as he seized the flight attendants after the Turkish Airlines aircraft from Ankara landed. The other passengers had already left the aircraft.

After about two hours police stormed the aircraft. The sticks turned out to be candles.

"It's over," Aksu said. "Our police made a successful operation."

Horses given sanctuary

RENO, Nev. -- A California rancher agreed Friday to give sanctuary to hundreds of horses being seized from two Western Shoshone sisters involved in a decades-old land dispute with the federal government.

The Bureau of Land Management maintains the elderly sisters, Mary and Carrie Dann, have been illegally grazing hundreds of cattle and horses to the detriment of the range and other ranchers.

Officials started rounding up horses Thursday, four months after 227 cattle belonging to the sisters were impounded and sold.

On Friday, the sisters reached a last-minute deal to entrust the horses to Slick Gardner, who owns a 60,000 acre ranch in Buellton, Calif.




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