Jarvik Artificial Heart Pump Helps First Patient in Upstate New York

October 18, 2007

A Rochester-area resident was the first recipient to receive a Jarvik 2000 artificial heart pump at the University of Rochester Medical Center. The ventricular assist device will help the heart failure patient’s native heart pump blood more effectively throughout his body in an effort to keep him as healthy as possible as he waits for a cardiac transplant.

The device was implanted during a six-hour operation on Sept. 24, performed by transplant surgeon H. Todd Massey, M.D., surgical director of the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation and director of the Artificial Heart Program. Also present in the operating room was Robert Jarvik, M.D., inventor of the Jarvik 2000 and other ventricular assist devices. Jarvik may be best known as developer of the Jarvik-7, the first total artificial heart, which was implanted in patient Barney Clark in 1982 at the University of Utah.

“Our 52-year-old patient is recovering well and, if all goes as we hope in the coming weeks, he’ll be able to return to his home to wait for a donor organ to become available for transplant,” Massey said.

The University of Rochester Medical Center and Massey are participants in an FDA-approved clinical investigation of the Jarvik 2000 for bridging patients to transplantation. The device is only available under this clinical study.

“We are pleased to be working with the University of Rochester Medical Center,” said Jarvik. “Dr. Massey and the heart failure and transplant team have extensive experience with other artificial heart pumps, and we look forward to collaborating on future cases and making a difference in many more patients’ lives.”

The Jarvik 2000 is the newest generation of ventricular assist devices, which have progressively become smaller in size and consist of better and longer-lasting technology. The Jarvik 2000 pump is made of titanium and is the size of a C battery, weighing 90 grams. It has a direct-current motor, a rotor supported by two ceramic bearings, and a single moving part: a small, spinning titanium impeller that pumps blood from the heart at up to 7 liters per minute. Rather than take over for the biological heart, as other ventricular assist devices do, the Jarvik 2000 augments the weakened heart’s blood output to help restore normal blood flow throughout the body.

The small device is implanted in the heart’s left ventricle. For patients who will receive a transplant, the cable that powers the Jarvik 2000 is tunneled through the abdominal wall and is connected to an exterior battery pack. Patients are mobile with the device and, once they have progressed enough in their recovery, can leave the hospital as they wait for a donor organ to become available for transplant.

Ventricular assist devices have become a significant component of the Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation and its Artificial Heart team, which has implanted about 200 VADs. More than 50 percent of VAD patients are bridged with ventricular assist devices while awaiting heart transplantation, with most of the patients being able to wait at home for long periods of time.

“We are grateful to be able to offer another, state-of-the-art device to patients that can keep them alive and as healthy as possible while they wait for their transplant,” said Leway Chen, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation.

The Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation is the largest program in upstate New York, and the region’s only comprehensive heart failure and transplant service. It also is a national leader in research efforts to further the treatment of heart failure and return patients that suffer from heart failure to healthy and productive lives. Since the program was started in 2001, 93 patients have received transplants.

For Media Inquiries:
Karin Christensen
(585) 275-1311
Email Karin Christensen