Strong Memorial’s first HeartMate II patient receives new heart

Clinical trial device provided Cortland-area woman a bridge-to-transplant

September 15, 2004

Stacy Holford, the 27-year-old woman who had an experimental heart pump implanted in her chest to keep her heart going while she waited for a transplant, received a donor heart last week at Strong Memorial Hospital.

Holford, of Homer, is doing well after her Sept. 7 transplant surgery, says H. Todd Massey, M.D., surgical director of the Strong Health Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation and director of the hospital's ventricular assist device program. She was moved Sunday from the cardiac ICU to the heart failure and transplant unit, walking on her own down the hallway. If things go as planned, she may be discharged this Friday to a local hotel, and could travel to Ithaca to stay with her grandparents late next week.

The transplant procedure included the removal of the Thoratec HeartMate II ventricular assist device, a pump that replaced her heart function to keep her alive and help her stay as healthy as possible while she waited for a new heart. The device was implanted July 23.

“Stacy is doing very well,” Massey says. “The HeartMate II made all the difference in the world. Without it, her heart would have been too weak to continue. With it, Stacy was able to become healthier as she waited for a donor organ.”

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 in November by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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 awaited transplant. Unfortunately her condition deteriorated and she began to suffer from end-organ dysfunction secondary to her failing heart, prompting the transplant team to implant the HeartMate II as a bridge-to-transplant.

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. During his career, 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 and 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
Email Karin Christensen