Albany Medical Center patients who have had mechanical heart pumps implanted gathered together recently to celebrate life and their success at overcoming the challenge of heart disease.
The celebration included the Albany Med patients who, thanks to newly available specialized heart pumps, are enjoying a higher quality of life, their families, and the Albany Med physicians and nurses involved in their care. They were joined by others in the region with the devices who are receiving supportive care here.
The pump, called a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), allows patients to live more normal lives by taking over the function of the left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber, and taking stress off of the patient’s weakened heart. Most of these patients are still awaiting a heart transplant, but others have had a pump placed as a permanent device.
“We are proud and grateful to be able to offer patients with advanced heart failure the opportunity to avoid the pain and anxiety of a seriously weakened heart by implanting an LVAD,” said Cardiothoracic Surgeon Stuart Miller, MD. “For many patients, this device is an extraordinary gift that allows them to leave the hospital and live at home with their loved ones while they wait for a heart transplant.”
David Morey of Guilderland was the first patient at Albany Med to receive one of the LVADs, called a HeartMate II, in November 2011. With a long history of heart disease, Morey faced many months in the hospital while awaiting a donor heart. “When I learned that the HeartMate II would allow me to keep living my life while I waited for a new heart, I knew I had to pursue that option,” he said.
John Scott, a patient from Troy who had an LVAD implanted in February, was barely able to walk up a flight of stairs prior to his surgery. With the LVAD, Scott now has the energy to be able to play with his young son, and is grateful that he is now a viable candidate for a heart transplant. “The nurses and doctors at Albany Med are helping me through this fight,” he said. “I feel like a miracle.”
Five people have received HeartMate II LVAD pumps at Albany Medical Center since last November. Dr. Miller has been the lead surgeon implanting these devices, while Mark Tallman, MD, has served as the heart failure cardiologist. Care for these patients as well as for others with pumps implanted elsewhere is now being provided locally.
“These courageous patients have fought hard to live happy lives in challenging circumstances, and they are succeeding,” Dr. Miller said.
“We are thrilled to cheer their good health, while letting others know that there is hope nearby for those with advanced heart failure,” added Dr. Tallman.
Click here for more information about Albany Med’s cardiac program and the