A 60-year-old Pennsylvania man suffering from end-stage heart failure received the CardioWest temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH-t) during a 6-hour surgery at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. The device replaces the patient's failing heart while he awaits a donor heart for transplantation. The average wait time for a donor heart in the mid-Pennsylvania region is 90 days. The recovering patient is currently on the heart transplant list.
The CardioWest is the only FDA-approved TAH-t in the world and a distant relative of the Jarvik permanent artificial heart. The TAH-t pumps more blood, up to 9.5 liters per minute, than any ventricular assist device. SynCardia, its manufacturer, reports this higher level of perfusion helps patients regain their strength, making them better heart transplant candidates.
In a pivotal clinical study reported by SynCardia their patients were successfully transplanted 79% of the time. One-year and five-year survival rates after heart transplant among these patients were 86 and 64 percent, respectively.
On May 2, 2007, Hershey Medical Center was the 9th hospital in the U.S. and 16th in the world to implant the CardioWest. Also saving lives with the CardioWest TAH-t are surgeons at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). The Artificial Heart Program at UPMC is one of the top clinical programs of its kind in the world. Since 1985, UPMC researchers have been at the forefront of advances in mechanical circulatory support. The program often serves as both a proving ground for manufacturers of new medical devices, and a training center for surgeons from all over.
Another heart assist device being studied at UPMC is the HeartMate II. HeartMate II, a new heart assist device controlled by an electronic system pioneered at UPMC, has given patients unparalleled improvement in independence and quality of life. UPMC is one of four centers in the United States studying this ventricular heart assist device (or VAD, so called because it helps the heart's main chambers, or ventricles, pump blood) in patients who are candidates for heart transplantation.
HeartMate II is a miniature rotary heart pump intended for patients with end-stage heart failure. A key feature of the VAD's design is a sophisticated control system developed by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh's McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. It senses when to increase or decrease the rate of blood flow based on the patient's level of activity, allowing someone to climb stairs, for instance. Accommodating varying degrees of physical activity was not possible with other experimental devices that require manual adjustments in flow.
Illustration: HeartMate II --Thoratec, Inc.
Penn State (05/09/07)
UPMC Health Journal
UPMC News Bureau (11/20/03)