Cardiac Caregiver: Christina VanderPluym, MD - Boston Children's Hospital

13 Mar 2014 02:22 13
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At Boston Children's Hospital, we believe that every child is unique and, as such, requires a comprehensive approach to advanced cardiac support tailored to his or her size and anatomy. That is why we are working so hard to expand the number and types of VADs available for use in children.

By applying technology originally developed for adults, Boston Children's is expanding VAD options for children. Introduced to Boston Children's in November 2012 by cardiologist Christina VanderPluym, MD, and the VAD team, the HeartWare HVAD® is a new generation device that continuously pumps blood from the failing heart to the body. The pump is implanted directly into the heart with only a small power cord exiting the body, allowing patients to resume all types of activities, including school.

Boston Children's patient Kyah DeSimone is currently benefiting from Boston Children's research. In 2012, Kyah became one of only a handful of children in the United States to undergo implantation of this portable, self-sustaining VAD, allowing her to return home, go to movies and hang out with friends, all while awaiting heart transplant. She was the first child in the United States to return to school with this device.

Looking to the future

In coordination with the New England Research Institute and the National Heart and Lung Blood Institute, Christopher Almond, along with Boston Children's Heart Failure/Transplant Program Medical Director Elizabeth Blume, MD, and Ravi Thiagarajan, MD, medical director of the Cardiac ECMO Program, are designing a multi-center clinical trial of three new heart pumps for infants and small children, a group that faces the highest risk of mortality.

Traditionally, these small children have the highest risk of blood clots and stroke, as well as the fewest options for advanced heart support. Boston Children's study will be the first extensive evaluation of a continuous flow VAD specifically designed for infants, as well as two miniature pumps capable of providing full heart-lung support.

By focusing on the smallest patients in need, we hope to find better and safer ways to support children successfully to transplantation.

Exploring all options

Boston Children's is a global expert in the use of VADs for children with failing hearts waiting for a donor organ. But because these devices require complex open-heart surgery and carry a risk of significant complications, Boston Children's cardiologists and surgeons are researching ways to improve patient outcomes by improving patient selection. This is especially true for children with complex congenital heart disease, including single ventricle heart defects, where Boston Children's has become a national leader in the use of ventricular assist devices.

Learn more about our Heart Transplant program:

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