Tucson-based artificial heart maker SynCardia Systems Inc. has raised $19 million in new, long-term growth capital from investors including a major health-care investment fund.

The investment includes a $15 million, structured financing arrangement with a new investor, New York-based Athyrium Opportunities Fund. The funding also includes a $4 million follow-on equity investment from existing shareholders, the privately held company said Wednesday.

SynCardia manufactures the world's only temporary artificial heart approved as a bridge to transplant in the U.S, Canada and Europe.

SynCardia Chairman and CEO Michael Garippa said the proceeds of the investment round will help fund commercialization of the company's smallest portable, pneumatic heart driver, which is awaiting final U.S. approval.

The new capital also will accelerate the launch of SynCardia's smaller, 50cc Total Artificial Heart, which is designed for smaller patients including women and adolescents, said Garippa, who also is SynCardia's president.

According to Athyrium's website, the financing arrangement with SynCardia includes a secured term loan and warrants, which allow holders to buy company stock at a specific price.

Laurent Hermouet, a partner in Athyrium, said SynCardia's new offerings will address the entire market for biventricular heart-failure devices and likely drive company growth. He also cited the possibility of extending the financing relationship.

Athyrium, a global health-care capital fund, has more than $500 million under management.

"SynCardia's recent growth is likely the beginning of a longer-term trend," said Hermouet. "We look forward to expanding this initial relationship as might be needed in upcoming quarters."

In 2012, SynCardia generated $25 million in revenue and a record-breaking 125 implants at more than 50 SynCardia certified implant centers worldwide, Garippa noted. Before the investment round announced Wednesday, SynCardia had raised more than $50 million in capital.


SynCardia Systems' Total Artificial Heart evolved from the first artificial heart ever used, in December 1982. The Jarvik-7 heart kept Barney Clark of Seattle alive for 112 days.

In 1985, Dr. Robert Jarvik began collaborating with former University of Arizona heart surgeon Dr. Jack Copeland, then head of University Medical Center's artificial-heart and heart-and-lung transplant programs. That year, Copeland became the first surgeon to use an artificial heart as a bridge to transplant.

Copeland and UMC took over what was then called the Symbion Heart in 1991. UMC kept the device available to patients on a research basis before SynCardia's start in 2001.

Contact Assistant Business Editor David Wichner at dwichner@azstarnet.com or 573-4181.