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February 14, 2003

First U.S. child receives implanted miniature heart pump at UMHS

10-year-old girl is youngest in world to get DeBakey device

UMHS pediatric cardiac surgeons help little girl live to see her 11th birthday

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ANN ARBOR, MI - Surgeons at the University of Michigan Health System successfully implanted a miniature heart pump in the first American child and the youngest patient in the world, ever to receive the device.

On January 30, 2003 a team of pediatric cardiac surgeons performed the implant of the DeBakey ventricular assist device (VAD) in a 10 year old girl. Three days later she celebrated her 11th birthday. After waiting to see how she did in the first days after the operation, the surgical team is calling the procedure a success!

Now the patient remains on the heart transplant waiting list, with her condition much improved by the device's heart-assisting action. "The surgery lasted about six hours and went extremely well," says Eric Devaney, M.D., the pediatric cardiac surgeon who led the surgery. "This is our first case using the DeBakey heart pump and I'm glad we were able to help this little girl. The device should sustain her health until she can receive a heart transplant."

The young patient suffers from idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition that has placed her on the heart transplant list for the past month. Her doctors feared she may not live long enough to receive a new heart - that's why they decided to implant the DeBakey heart pump.

The DeBakey VAD is a heart assist pump designed for end-stage heart failure patients who are waiting for a heart transplant. It is implanted in the chest cavity and is attached to the heart and helps pump blood from the left ventricle up the aorta and to the body. Measuring at 1 inch by 3 inches and weighing only four ounces, the DeBakey VAD is approximately one-tenth the size of the heart-assist devices currently on the market, making it a viable option for the young U-M patient.

"Since this patient is so young her body was not big enough to handle the heart pump we usually use for older patients," says Devaney. "The DeBakey device was small enough yet high powered enough to help her." Devaney notes that the U-M has extensive experience in implanting heart-assist devices, including the nation's third most active Heartmate LVAD program.

Devaney says the patient's new heart pump is greatly improving her quality of life, but her battle isn't over yet. "She still needs a new heart," says Devaney. "The heart pump has significantly increased her chance at life. But the ultimate goal is getting her a new heart."

Currently, the DeBakey VAD is in a phase III clinical trial in the United States. It received certification in May 2001 to begin commercialization in Europe.

It's made by MicroMed Technology, Inc., a privately held company that develops products to help patients suffering from congestive heart failure. The company's headquarters are in Houston, Texas. For more information on MicroMed Technology, Inc. and the DeBakey VAD, go to

Written by: Carrie Hagen

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