Tom Christerson, 71, former tire dealer and the world's longest living AbioCor artificial heart recipient, died Feb. 7.
Mr. Christerson made medical history when he became the second person to receive the AbioCor implantable heart in a clinical trial and then go home seven months later. After suffering for years from heart disease, Mr. Christerson was admitted to Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Ky., and underwent an artificial heart transplant Sept. 13, 2001. The operation allowed him to see such milestones as his 55th wedding anniversary and the birth of his first great-grandchild.
Founder of Pace Tire Center Inc. in Central City, Mr. Christerson worked for 26 years as an independent tire dealer, an investment that he told Tire Business was ``the most wonderful thing I ever did in my life.''
Normal wear of an internal membrane in the artificial heart was determined as the cause of death. Mr. Christerson reportedly was alert, oriented and visiting with family and friends until he fell asleep and died at Jewish Hospital.
He is survived by his wife, Speedy; son Ken and daughter Patti Pryor, who are co-owners of Pace Tire; three grandchildren, a great-granddaughter and three sisters.
The family said donations in expression of sympathy can be made to the Tom Christerson and Family Nursing Scholarship Fund, c/o Jewish Hospital Foundation, 200 Abraham Flexner Way, Louisville, Ky. 40202.