First of Kind Surgery in West Virginia Saves Failing Heart

Jan 3, 2018

Doctors at WVU Heart and Vascular Institute have implanted a permanent artificial heart pump into a Maryland man with a failing heart in the first surgery of its kind in West Virginia.

The procedure surgically attached an artificial pump to the heart. That pump was then paired with a power pack worn outside the body. The device helps pump blood through the body when other methods to treat heart failure would not be effective.

Before the surgery, doctors reported the patient had about a 10 percent likelihood of surviving two years. Now those odds are more than 80 percent.

The surgery was part of WVU Medicine’s new comprehensive Advanced Heart Failure Program.

Heart failure is the fourth leading cause of hospitalization and readmission in the U.S., according to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. Depending on its severity, most cases of heart failure can be managed with medications, pacemakers, or surgery. When those treatments are not options, heart transplantation or a heart pump, such as the procedure described, is necessary.

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Marshall Health, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.