Doctors at the University of Tokyo saved a small child who was seriously suffering from a severe heart condition, aided by a BerlinHeart Excor ventricular assist device, the first time this procedure has been achieved in Japan.
“The 14-month-old girl would only have been able to survive a few more weeks without the ventricular assist device. Now the artificial heart has taken over the pumping function of the completely weakened heart. Until a donor heart is found for the girl, weighing only seven kilos, her life depends on the mechanical artificial heart,” according to an announcement from BerlinHeart GmbH.
The little patient would very probably not have survived waiting for transplantation in Japan, or for transport to another country for transplantation without the mechanical support. Assisted by the Excor VAD, the infant could be stabilized well enough to be able to wait for transplantation, the announcement added.
The VAD has been successfully employed in more than 1,100 children worldwide since its first implantation in 1990. It is the only system which can support all patients from newborns up to young people and adults such that they can survive until the heart transplantation. The Excor VAD is used in 138 centres in 34 countries for bridging the often long waiting periods - in Europe 57.5% of the patients wait longer than one year for a new heart. Occasionally the heart can also recover so well, due to the mechanical support, that the assist device can be explanted and the patient can continue to live with their own heart.
The implantation was performed by Professors Ono and Murakami, with medical advice from Prof. Wearden (Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh) and clinical specialists from the Berlin Heart company from Germany and the USA. At the same time it constitutes the beginning of the approval study for the Excor Pediatric VAD in Japan.
To date, Excor has been used in more than 3,000 patients worldwide, from new-borns with a body weight of 2.2 kg up to adults.
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