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Ventricular Assist Device (VAD)

Groundbreaking Care with Ventricular Assist Devices

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What is a VAD?

If medication or heart transplant aren’t an option, a ventricular assist device (VAD) can help your heart function. A VAD is a small pump implanted on the tip of your heart. It sits inside the chest and runs on a battery pack.

VADs dramatically improve heart failure symptoms in many patients. In fact, survival rates for patients with VADs are quickly approaching those of patients who receive heart transplants.

Many of the patients the UR Medicine team has treated with VADs go on to live active lives. These devices can also help a patient stay healthy temporarily while they wait for a donor transplant heart to become available.

By the Numbers


More than 900 VADs implanted since 2001

UR Medicine's Approach

VAD implants require open-heart surgery. UR Medicine is one of the first in the United States to perform VAD implant with a sternal sparing approach, using smaller incisions on the sides of your chest.

  • First, your surgeon will access your heart through your breastbone to implant the VAD.
  • During the procedure, a heart lung machine will supply your body with blood and oxygen.
  • Next, the VAD is attached to your left ventricle and to your aorta, then to an external power supply.
  • After surgery, you’ll stay in the Intensive Care Unit for two to three days, followed by a move to a regular hospital room where you work with nurses and physical therapists to recover. Most patients receiving a VAD return home within two to three weeks.
  • You’ll need to take several medications after your implantation, such as a blood thinner to prevent clots in your VAD.

Patient Stories

More Energy Than He's Had in Years

Tim Yelder was suffering from severe heart failure. He couldn't walk 10 yards without stopping to catch his breath. At 35 years old, Tim had the heart of an 85-year-old. Tim's cardiologist sent him to UR Medicine's Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation.

What Sets Us Apart?

UR Medicine is one of the five largest ventricular assist device programs in the country and also one of the most experienced. Launched in 2001, our program has been involved in nearly every major clinical study involving VADs, implanting over 900 devices.

We’re the only center in upstate New York to perform heart transplants, with outcomes comparable to the best heart transplant centers in the nation.

We’re the first team in the nation to implant a VAD by using the Sternal Sparing technique, which uses two small incisions instead of “cracking open” the chest. This means shorter hospitalizations, fewer complications and less pain—all contributing to a quicker return to normal life.  Our pioneering work led to FDA approval, allowing other heart centers to follow our lead and benefit patients across the country.

We offer patients the most advanced and effective VADs available today and have developed expertise in numerous devices, including:

  • Abbott HeartMate II™. The first continuous flow left ventricular assist device (LVAD), first implanted at the University of Rochester Medical Center as part of a clinical trial in 2004. We have since implanted  more than 350 of these pumps and have had a patient reach the 10-year milestone living on the HeartMate II. 
  • Abbott HeartMate 3™. A fully magnetically levitated LVAD utilized for both short- and long-term support.

UR Medicine is the first in the region to receive advanced certification from the Joint Commission for heart failure and for ventricular assist devices.

Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval


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We serve you in the Rochester metropolitan area and surrounding region.

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9 locations

Cardiac Catheterization Lab - Rochester

Strong Memorial Hospital
601 Elmwood Avenue, Ground Floor, G-1200
Rochester, NY 14620

Cardiac Rehabilitation - Hornell

St. James Medical Office Building
7309 Seneca Road North, Suite 104
Hornell, NY 14843

Cardiac Rehabilitation Center - Brighton

Canal View Office Complex
140 Canal View Boulevard, Suite 104
Rochester, NY 14623

Paul N. Yu Heart Center - Rochester

Ambulatory Care Center at Strong Memorial Hospital
601 Elmwood Avenue, Ground Floor
Rochester, NY 14626

General and Transplant Nephrology - Rochester

601 Elmwood Avenue, 2nd & 3rd Floors
Rochester, NY 14642

Cardiac Rehabilitation - Canandaigua

FF Thompson Hospital
350 Parrish Street
Canandaigua, NY 14424

Cardiac Rehabilitation - Wellsville

Jones Memorial Hospital
191 North Main St​reet
Wellsville, NY 14895

Transplant Program - Rochester

Ambulatory Care Center at Strong Memorial Hospital
601 Elmwood Avenue, 2nd Floor
Rochester, NY 14642

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