BALTIMORE (WJZ)— There’s a breakthrough at the University of Maryland Medical Center. For the first time ever in Maryland, a patient with an artificial heart receives a heart transplant.

Mary Bubala has the story.

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Grant Feusner, 64, says he’s lucky to be alive.

Earlier this year he was rushed to the University of Maryland Medical Center with congestive heart failure.

“I wasn’t that far away from death and didn’t know it,” Feusner said.

Doctors immediately knew Feusner was a candidate for a heart transplant but to keep him alive until a donor was found doctors implanted an artificial heart.

UMMC is the only Maryland hospital certified to use the temporary total artificial heart. It’s the only FDA approved device available as a “bridge” to a heart transplant.

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“When you think about it, we really had to trust each other because we are telling him we think we need to take out his entire heart and even though he knew his heart was badly diseased it’s still a big step to agree to that,” said Dr. Erika Feller, cardiologist UMMC.

Just a month after the artificial heart was pounding in Grant’s chest, a matching donor became available.

So he went back into surgery on his birthday and he received the ultimate gift: a new heart. And he’s grateful to the donor.

“You cry a little bit when you first hear about it– a young man lost his life and saved mine and perhaps others,” Feusner said.

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Grant went to a rehabilitation hospital for several weeks after the transplant and finally was able to go home on May 25. He should be up and walking in the next few weeks.