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‘Tin Man’ Completes Race with Artificial Heart

This athletic dad sustained so much heart damage that it didn’t look like he’d make it to 40.

Randy Shepherd is just like any other 42-year-old married father with a lofty fitness goal – to complete Pat’s Run, a 4.2 mile course event that honors fallen soldier and NFL player Pat Tillman.

This would be typical stuff, were it not for the fact that just three years ago Shepard was hours from death due to a failing heart.

After contracting rheumatic fever twice in his lifetime, this athletic dad sustained so much heart damage that it didn’t look like he’d make it to 40. That is until he received a temporary Total Artificial Heart from medical technology company SynCardia Systems. 

Since January 2012 more than 600 SynCardia Hearts have been implanted. Like a heart transplant, the SynCardia TAH-t is the only approved device that eliminates end-stage biventricular heart failure. When Shepherd became clinically stable with the implant, he received a portable driver that allowed him to be discharged from the hospital to wait for a matching donor heart at home.

But Shepard, affectionately dubbed “the tin man” by friends and the public, didn’t just wait. He started an exercise regimen that included lifting weights and walking, and in 2014, he walked Pat’s Run with his wife Tiffany, completing the course with his artificial heart and the 13.5-pound portable driver in his backpack.

Shepherd received his real donor heart transplant September 15, 2014 and in April of 2015, he went back to Pat’s Run and completed the course in about 58 minutes, keeping a jogging pace for about half of the race.

The Tin Man completed the race again in 2016 and said, “With my second chance at life I have learned to live my life better. 2016 will not be my last race.”

This is IEN Now.

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