First Berlin Heart in Louisiana implanted
Mechanical heart beats to keep three year old alive
NEW ORLEANS – Malia Sanchez, of Boyce, Louisiana, is the first pediatric patient in the state to undergo surgery for a Berlin Heart. After contracting an infection, Malia was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a chronic disease of the heart, and had to be placed on a heart/lung bypass called Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO). Doctors at Children’s Hospital determined that a Berlin Heart would be the only way she would survive to transplant. Pediatric patients on the list for a heart transplant can wait months because a donor heart must be of similar size. This device keeps children alive while on the transplant list.
The Berlin Heart EXCOR®Pediatric VAD is a mechanical cardiac support system for critically ill pediatric patients suffering from severe heart failure. The system is designed to support pediatric patients of all age groups, from newborns to teenagers, and is intended to bridge patients awaiting heart transplantation from days up to several months, until a donor heart becomes available. The Berlin Heart EXCOR®Pediatric VAD, which has previously been approved for use in Europe and Canada, was approved by the FDA in December, 2011 as the only Ventricular Assist Device that is designed specifically for pediatrics.
On Tuesday, July 24, 2012, Malia became the first child in Louisiana to be implanted with the device. Children’s Hospital and LSUHSC pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons Joseph Caspi and Timothy Pettitt performed the six hour open-heart surgery to attach tubes to her diseased heart in order for the device to pump blood from her heart through her body.