Ventricular Assist Devices Improve Survival Rates For Young Heart Failure Patients

3:42 PM, Aug 9, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA)-- Every year, thousands of children struggle with heart failure and need a heart transplant. The wait for a new heart could take months. Could the baby survive? Researchers from 17 institutions say yes.  

A new study, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that the Berlin Heart, a ventricular assist device, provides a successful bridge to transplantation for children.

Charles Fraser Jr., M.D., surgeon-in-chief at Texas Children's Hospital, told CBS News, "in those patients that were enrolled in the study, more than 90% of them survived, to receive a heart transplant or recover."

Doctors inserted cannulas, small flexible tubes, in the patients' hearts. The device pumped blood through the body, keeping some patients alive until a heart became available. 

Other patients' hearts pumped blood on its own after the device was taken out.

On day 174, 88 percent of children with the Berlin Heart had been successfully transplanted, while 12 percent failed weaning or died. 

By day 192, 92 percent of children with the Berlin Heart had been successfully weaned off the device or transplanted.  

But there are some serious side-effects: major bleeding, infection, high blood pressure and higher risk of stroke. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the device in Dececember 2011 for the use in children and babies. 

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