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Ex-Polish leader Lech Walesa set to receive pacemaker in Houston after getting coronary stent

Ex-Polish leader Lech Walesa set to receive pacemaker in Houston after getting coronary stent

Doctors are hoping that a pacemaker will keep Nobel laureate and former Polish President Lech Walesa from needing a heart transplant.
Walesa, who came to Houston, for tests this week, was scheduled to have the device implanted Friday at Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center. On Wednesday, he had a stent implanted into a clogged coronary artery.
"The goal is to help his heart function improve," hospital spokeswoman Erin Fairchild said.
Walesa, 64, will have a biventricular pacemaker-defibrillator implanted. The pacemaker will synchronize the contractions of his heart, while the defibrillator will be on standby to shock the heart if needed, Fairchild said. Biventricular means it's working on both sides of the heart, she said.
Fairchild said the pacemaker _ about the size of a stopwatch _ will be implanted through about a 1-inch (2.5 centimeter) incision. She said the surgery could last as long as five hours.
It is hoped that the pacemaker will prevent or at least postpone the need for a heart transplant.
"Ideally, we'd want to prevent the need for a heart transplant altogether," Fairchild said.
Walesa, a former Gdansk shipyard electrician, led a workers' strike in 1980 that grew into the nationwide Solidarity freedom movement against Poland's communist authorities, earning him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1983.
In 1989, Solidarity toppled Poland's communist regime and Walesa went on to serve as Poland's first democratically elected president, from 1990-95.
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Updated : 2021-04-17 20:36 GMT+08:00