One important goal of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
faculty is to develop and define technologies that will maintain, improve, or even restore the function of diseased organs. The growing need for these technologies is substantial. Improved health care has resulted in an increased life span for the general population and, when coupled with a growing shortage of donor organs, makes it clear that organ assistance and substitution devices will play a larger role in managing patients with end-stage disease by providing a bridge to recovery or transplantation.
A patient success story of the McGowan Institute’s Clinical Translation Program at UPMC was recently featured by The Pittsburgh Channel. The account of heart/bariatric surgery patient, Jason Leslie, illustrated another use for today’s ventricular assist device technology which gives him and others like him renewed hope.
One year ago at 400 pounds, Jason’s heart was failing. He needed bariatric surgery. Doctors told Jason it was unlikely he would survive a heart transplant, and his current heart was too weak to undergo weight-loss surgery. An option for Jason, however, was a newer and smaller artificial heart pump.
"This is the first time I think we've seen some hope for these people that are crippled both by obesity and heart failure. The smaller devices that we currently have produce less complication and allow the patients to get more mobile and out of hospitals sooner. It also allows the surgeons that do obesity surgery to have access to the abdomen," said Robert Kormos, MD (pictured top),
the Director Artificial Heart Program, Co-Director Heart Transplantation at UPMC, and Medical Director of Vital Engineering.
After receiving the heart pump, Jason was able to undergo weight-loss surgery. Leslie's cardiologist, McGowan Institute faculty member Jeffrey Teuteberg, MD (pictured bottom), Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Cardiovascular Institute, Heart Failure/Transplantation, University of Pittsburgh, has applauded his patient's determination and spirit.
"He got through the heart pump surgery very, very well. Recovered very quickly and got through the weight loss surgery very well and has been exercising and slowly losing weight," said Dr. Teuteberg.
Today Jason strives to get healthier every day. His motivation: a heart transplant. Because of the artificial heart pump technology used to treat Jason his dream may one day become reality.
A pioneering program when it began in 1985, the UPMC artificial heart program has grown to be one of the largest programs of its kind in the world. Unique in its collaboration with the biomedical engineering program, it was the first in the world to discharge patients from the hospital who were supported with left ventricular assist devices. The program aims to match the most advanced technology with patient need for circulatory support in conditions of end-stage heart failure.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
The Pittsburgh Channel (12/03/09)
Bio: Dr. Robert Kormos
Bio: Dr. Jeffrey Teuteberg