In this health video learn how cleaning the blood may help treat a failing heart.
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Jennifer Matthews: It wasn't too long ago that Allen Johnson wasn't feeling so great. Allen Johnson: Life before was pretty much sitting on the couch. Jennifer Matthews: Allen was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a condition that weakens the heart muscle. He was told he needed a heart transplant. Dr. Guillermo Torre, is unraveling the mystery behind deadly heart conditions like Allan's. He says some heart failure is linked to inflammation in the body. Dr. Guillermo Torre: Addressing inflammation provides a whole new strategy for patients with heart failure. And by concentrating on that, you also come up with totally novel ways a treating a diseased heart. Jennifer Matthews: Plasma exchange is one new way. This machine takes blood from the patient and literally cleanses it of items that cause inflammation. Dr. Guillermo Torre: The blood is removed. It goes through the machine, and the machine separates the cellular elements from the plasma, or the proteins. Once you separate those, the cellular elements are re-infused back into the patient, and we remove those active proteins that can be detrimental to the heart. Jennifer Matthews: After five treatments, Johnson is feeling better. But he's not out of the woods yet. He knows he may still need that transplant one day. But he doesn't let it get him down. Allen Johnson: I am feeling better now, and that's all that matters. Jennifer Matthews: All that matters when you've been give a second chance at life. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.