Medicine: High Spirits on a Plastic Pulse

Schroeder's joviality and fast recovery astound his doctors

The metal-and-plastic heart whirred and clicked in an eerie, mechanical rhythm as Dr. William DeVries, 40, removed the tracheal tube from his patient's throat. For the first time since his artificial heart had been implanted about 36 hours earlier, William Schroeder, 52, could breathe on his own and speak. "Can I get you something to drink?" the doctor asked. Replied Schroeder: "I'd like a beer." It was, DeVries admitted afterward, one of the high points of the tension-filled hours following his second successful attempt to...

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