OHSU Implants Revolutionary Heart Device

11/08/99    Portland, Ore.

Patient on Transplant Waiting List Gets Assistance to Keep Heart Beating.

Doctors at Oregon Health Sciences University have implanted a new cardiac device that will help pump blood for a man awaiting a heart transplant. The 53-year old patient received a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) to offset the aschemic cardiomyopathy that has caused several heart attacks. Doctors say he could live with the device for years, but hope to use it only long enough until a donor heart is ready to be transplanted.

"The new LVAD is revolutionary because it is small enough that a patient can leave the hospital and live a normal life until the transplant occurs," said OHSU cardiothoracic surgeon Irving Shen, M.D. "By pumping blood more effectively, the LVAD not only helps out a diseased heart, but also makes other organs stronger and better prepares the patient for a healthy transplant."

Shen says the device may one day provide treatment for end-stage heart failure patients who are not transplant candidates. "For older patients, or others who have failing hearts but for some reason are not being considered for transplants, these devices can offer a better quality of life," he said.

The OHSU End Stage Heart Program is one of the few in the Northwest that offer LVAD to heart failure patients and also runs the oldest heart transplant program in Oregon. Since Shen joined the team in July, the program has performed eight transplants and has acquired a team of physicians and surgeons working on various specialties of end-stage heart disease.