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Originally published Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 6:25 PM

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New human heart quieter than his mechanical one, says recipient

Chris Marshall, who got a heart transplant Sept. 12 at the University of Washington to replace an artificial heart, said Tuesday, in his first interview since the operation, that he feels "really good."

Seattle Times health reporter

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The first thing Chris Marshall noticed when he woke up with his new heart nearly two weeks ago was that something was missing: the blappety-blappety sound of the total artificial heart and battery-powered driver that had replaced his own failing heart in February.

The quiet felt good, he said.

Marshall got his donor heart on Sept. 12 in a seven-hour operation at the University of Washington.

On Tuesday, in his first interview since the transplant, Marshall said he felt great.

"I felt really good on the artificial heart, and I feel really good on the transplanted heart," a beaming Marshall said Tuesday from his hospital room. "It's a miracle."

Marshall, 51, an avid hiker from Alaska, is the first artificial-heart patient in Washington who was able to leave the hospital while waiting for the real thing, thanks to an experimental portable heart-driver he carted around in a backpack.

Freed from his UW hospital room, he and his wife, Kathy, hiked miles every day over the past seven months, backpack in tow, as they climbed hills and explored trails.

Once he got the donor heart, he wasted no time. The next day, Marshall was up "hiking" the hospital hallways. By Monday, he had worked up to three miles, he said, and people had begun asking why he was still in the hospital.

Attending cardiologist Dr. Daniel Fishbein said Marshall could be released as early as the end of the week. But he'll have to stick close to the UW for the next three months while doctors make sure he's not rejecting the new heart and check for signs of infection.

"He's done very well," said Fishbein, in part because Marshall had been in such good physical condition before the transplant. "I think he's a motivated guy."

Carol M. Ostrom: 206-464-2249 or costrom@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @costrom.

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