Patient Care

Strong Memorial Cardiology Team Helps Expand Use of Next-Gen Heart Pumps

Oct. 24, 2018
Heart surgeon Igor Gosev, M.D., and Dwight Hubbard, right, who has been living with an LVAD for the
Heart surgeon Igor Gosev, M.D., and Dwight Hubbard, right, who has been living with a HeartMate 3 [i,[ for the past two years. He was part of the studies that helped secure expanded use of the heart pump.

UR Medicine Heart and Vascular is celebrating its valuable contributions to securing approval of the latest high-tech pump for the growing population of people facing heart failure. Last week, the FDA OK’d the HeartMate 3™ pump for use in long-term therapy, providing gravely ill patients the opportunity for longer survival.

“This is great news for the growing number of people who suffer from heart failure,” said Leway Chen, M.D., M.P.H., medical director of the Advanced Heart Failure Program. “We have been using this pump since the early studies and found its innovative design reduces complications and improves survival and quality of life.”

Within hours of the approval, the team performed its first implant for a patient not eligible for heart transplantation on Saturday.

HeartMate 3 left ventricular assist device
HeartMate 3 left ventricular assist device

The HeartMate 3 is a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) designed to treat people with advanced congestive heart failure. Made by Abbott, it supplements the pumping action of a weakened heart. It was approved for short-term use leading to a heart transplant in August 2017 and the recent FDA decision allows its use in advanced heart failure patients, who will live with it for the rest of their life.

UR Medicine is a leader in LVAD use and innovation:


  •  With nearly 20 years of experience providing and studying the devices, the team brings novel technology and therapies to critically ill patients first. Strong Memorial Hospital, the only site in Upstate New York implanting LVADs, is one of the highest volume centers in the country, with nearly 600 implants to date.  
  •  Eight months ago, surgeons introduced a new, less-invasive approach to implant the pump. Previously, placement required opening the sternum, or breastbone, which is painful and slow to heal.

This new technique, performed first in the U.S. on Feb. 12 at Strong, allows surgeons to gently slide the 7-ounce device through two small incisions near the heart. The surgery is easily tolerated, reduces risk of complications and hastens recovery.

“We are now traveling to top heart centers around the country to train their surgeons how to perform the implant procedure, and expect that it will soon become the gold standard technique,” said heart transplant surgeon Igor Gosev, M.D., who collaborated with minimally invasive cardiac surgeon Peter Knight, M.D. 

Strong Memorial Hospital is the only site for LVADs in Upstate New York. The experienced team has a long history of providing comprehensive care and research, placing it among the leaders in the country. The team participated in early clinical studies that led to standard use of the pumps and worked closely with industry leaders to improve the devices and outcomes.

To date, UR Medicine has provided LVADs to 580 people, some of whom travel from Northern and Central New York, Albany, Buffalo, Southern Tier and Pennsylvania regions for care.

About congestive heart failure and LVADs

More than 5.7 million people in the U.S. suffer from heart failure and approximately 915,000 new patients are diagnosed each year.

“Heart failure is a crippling disease and providing patients advanced technology and a better quality of life is a significant advance that we’re proud to have helped create,” said Jeffrey Alexis, M.D., medical director of UR Medicine’s LVAD and artificial heart program.

Advanced congestive heart failure treatment options are limited, but LVAD with or without heart transplantation helps to extend survival.

Unfortunately only 1 in 10 people waiting for a new heart receive one because of the shortage of donors. In New York, organ donation is low and Upstate New York patients have longer wait times than many areas of the country.