The 500th patient was supported with the Berlin Heart EXCOR® Pediatric Ventricular Assist Device (also known as the “Berlin Heart”) since the first implantation of the device in 1990. The patient, an 11-month-old girl, received the device at the Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago and has been successfully transplanted in the meantime.
Alejandra had been diagnosed a few weeks after birth with left ventricular non compaction and dilative cardiomyopathy, a disease that causes the heart muscle to enlarge and weaken. From six months of age, she received medications for her heart disease, but as she progressively worsened, she had to be placed on the waiting list for a donor heart. She presented to Dr. Elfriede Pahl, medical director of heart transplantation at Children’s Memorial Hospital, with a respiratory infection and required mechanical ventilation.
Alejandra was placed on ECMO, a modified version of a heart-lung machine, on 2 January 2009, but rapidly deteriorated. “She was difficult to support on ECMO with a good deal of bleeding and relatively poor systemic perfusion,” recalls Dr. Jeffrey Gossett, Alejandra’s cardiologist. “As a result we needed to continue paralysis and were unable to feed her well.”
By the time she received the Berlin Heart EXCOR Pediatric VAD, she had spent 38 days on mechanical ventilation and three days on ECMO. Alejandra’s mother recalls, “We were devastated and very anxious. We had to hope for a miracle to help Alejandra.”
Source: Berlin Heart