Tuesday, April 4, 2006
RICHMOND, Va. (April
4, 2006) – A cardiac surgery team at Virginia Commonwealth University’s
Pauley Heart Center has performed the first artificial heart implant on
the East Coast. The CardioWest temporary Total Artificial Heart, or TAH-t,
is the only total artificial heart approved by the U.S. Food and Drug
The patient, a man in
his late 50s from Virginia, was in stable condition today in the Pauley
Center’s intensive care unit following a seven-hour surgery on Monday to
implant the TAH-t. He had been critically ill suffering from end-stage
heart failure. The TAH-t replaces his damaged heart while he waits for a
donor heart to become available for transplant.
The TAH-t is a modern
version of the Jarvik-7 Artificial Heart of the 1980s. Survival rates
have increased dramatically because of technological advances that
provide improved blood flow, along with major therapeutic advancements
to reduce the occurrence of strokes and life threatening bleeding. The
TAH-t is the only total artificial heart approved by the FDA, Health
Canada and Communité Europeenne.
The VCU Medical
Center is one of just three hospitals in the United States, and seven
others worldwide, currently certified to implant the TAH-t. The two
other U.S. hospitals are the University Medical Center (UMC) in Tucson,
Ariz., and the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
“More than 300,000
Americans die every year from heart failure, and many die while waiting
for a transplant. As a national leader in treating heart failure and in
heart transplantation, we are excited to be among the first to introduce
this new technology to the nation. We also continue to introduce other
diagnostic and therapeutic advances in the treatment of heart failure
through the VCU Pauley Heart Center,” said Dr. Sheldon M. Retchin, CEO,
VCU Health System and VCU vice president for Health Sciences.
According to UNOS,
the United Network for Organ Sharing, which coordinates U.S. organ
transplant activities, more than 100 patients in Virginia are awaiting
heart transplants. The TAH-t serves as a bridge to heart transplant for
critically ill patients with end-stage biventricular failure, a
condition in which both heart ventricles, the major portions of the
heart that pump blood, fail to pump enough blood to sustain health. The
TAH-t replaces the damaged heart.
The TAH-t pumps up to
9.5 liters of blood per minute through both ventricles – more than any
other device – helping to rejuvenate vital organs that have atrophied
due to a failing heart. In 2004, the American Heart Association named
the TAH-t the No. 1 advance in cardiovascular medicine. An August 2004
paper in the New England Journal of Medicine found in a pivotal clinical
trial that the one-year survival rate following human heart transplant
for patients receiving the TAH-t was 70 percent, versus 31 percent for
The transplant team
at VCU’s Pauley Heart Center, led by Dr. Vigneshwar Kasirajan,
cardiothoracic surgeon, underwent rigorous training in Tucson and
Richmond to ensure that the hospital and the team were implant ready.
All TAH-t certified hospitals have years -- and often decades -- of
experience in human heart transplantation.
“This is an
extraordinary interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses,
perfusionists and medical technicians,” Kasirajan said. “The role of
nursing care is particularly crucial and one of the reasons that we were
able to be TAH-t certified.”
The American Nurses
Credentialing Center recently awarded the VCU Health System Magnet
status, the highest honor and level of recognition for nursing
excellence in national and international health care.
“The VCU Medical
Center, through its Pauley Heart Center, has one of the oldest major
transplant programs in the country and is recognized as a national
leader in developing and implementing cardiovascular procedures,” said
Eugene P. Trani, Ph.D., VCU president and president and chair of the VCU
Health System. “The TAH-t program reaffirms our tradition as a leader in
advanced cardiac care.”
The CardioWest TAH-t
is manufactured by
SynCardia Systems, Inc.,
which was formed in 2001 by Marvin J. Slepian, M.D., Richard G. Smith,
MSEE, CCE, and noted cardiovascular surgeon Jack Copeland, M.D. All
three men, along with other medical professionals, are instructors for
the TAH-t certification training program.
note: Video clips and animation video are located at http://www.news.vcu.edu/multimedia/video.aspx#v2.
About VCU and VCU Medical Center
Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.