Strong Memorial implants its first HeartMate II

August 03, 2004

The HeartMate II is about 1 pound compared to the nearly 5-pound HeartMate XVE and is smaller in size.

The Strong Health Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation has implanted the program’s first Thoratec HeartMate II ventricular assist device in a 27-year-old woman waiting for a heart transplant.

The patient, Stacy Holford of Homer, is doing well after her July 23 surgery, says H. Todd Massey, M.D., surgical director of the Strong Health Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation and director of the Strong Artificial Heart Program. The new pump has replaced her heart function, to keep her alive and help her stay as healthy as possible while she waits for a new heart.

Strong is one of only 10 centers in the United States and Europe approved to participate in the international clinical trial testing the newly designed left ventricular assist device, which replaces a patient’s weak left ventricle while the individual waits for a donor organ to become available. The pump was approved for use in clinical trials in the United States last year by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Seventeen HeartMate II devices have been implanted as part of the study that began in November, 13 of them in the U.S.

The HeartMate II is the next generation of HeartMate left ventricular assist devices. The new axial flow device is longer-lasting and considerably lighter – about 1 pound compared to the nearly 5-pound HeartMate XVE – and smaller in size, which makes it possible to implant the HeartMate II in smaller patients, particularly women whose bodies could not accommodate the larger HeartMate model. The Strong Memorial transplant team has been implanting the HeartMate XVE in patients since 2001.

Holford was referred to Strong Memorial’s transplant team in 2003 by Ithaca cardiologist Lynn Swisher, M.D., and has been followed in Strong’s cardiac transplant clinic as she awaits transplant. Unfortunately her condition deteriorated and she began to suffer from end-organ dysfunction secondary to her failing heart.

“Stacy had a heart attack and suffers from congestive heart failure and ischemic cardiomyopathy, which prevents her left ventricle from adequately supplying blood to the rest of her body,” Massey says. “The HeartMate II has allowed us to provide her a bridge-to-transplant, so that her kidneys, lungs and liver work properly and she can stay alive until we are able to get her a new heart.” The device essentially replaces all the functions of her native heart.

The transplant team utilizes a number of surgically implanted mechanical pump devices, including the Thoratec PVAD, the Abiomed BVS 5000 Thoratec IVAD, and the Heartmate XVE LVAD. Massey has implanted more than 100 devices in patients with end-stage heart failure.

The Strong Health Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation serves patients from throughout upstate New York and northern Pennsylvania. The first heart transplant procedure in Rochester was performed in February 2001. To date, 45 heart transplants have been performed. The program’s one-year survival rate is 92 percent, one of the best in the nation and significantly higher than the national average for heart transplant programs. Graft survival rate is 100 percent.

The program, led by Massey and medical director/senior transplant cardiologist Leway Chen, M.D., M.P.H., has grown over the past year with two additional transplant cardiologists, Jeffrey Alexis, M.D., and Hamang Patel, M.D., who join transplant cardiologist John Bisognano, M.D., Ph.D., and the other members of the team. The program also added the life-saving service of a unique Cardiac Critical Care Transport Team, composed of cardiac critical care nurses, respiratory therapists, perfusionists and physicians. The team uses a vehicle equipped with state-of-the- art technology to assist patients being rushed from outlying areas to Strong Memorial for the region’s most comprehensive cardiac care.

The Strong Health Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation is the region’s only comprehensive heart failure service. It offers state-of-the-art medical therapy, heart failure surgery, an artificial heart program and heart transplantation. The program 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.

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