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Children’s Hospital Cardiothoracic Surgeons Discuss Latest Advancements in Heart Support Devices for Young Children

Presentation on development of first pediatric heart pumps in the U.S. will be broadcast on Web

The Heart Center at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC is one of the world’s most experienced centers in the use of technology to support pediatric patients in heart failure and in need of a transplant.

During a live Web cast at 8 a.m. EDT Thursday, April 10, 2008, pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons from Children’s will discuss the current lack of technology available in the United States for children in heart failure and provide updates on efforts to develop a pediatric ventricular assist device (VAD).

The availability of VADs for use in infants and young children is extremely limited, with no device specifically approved for use in this age group in the United States, according to Peter Wearden, MD, PhD, who will lead the presentation following introductory remarks from Victor Morell, MD, chief of the Division of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery.

Dr. Wearden currently is spearheading two National Institutes of Health-funded projects to develop internal and external VADs for young children. VADs are mechanical devices that take over the pumping action of the heart and offer lifesaving support, most often acting as a bridge to keep patients alive until a donor heart becomes available for transplantation.

It is estimated that as many as 1,000 children annually may benefit from these technologies, said Dr. Wearden, a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon and director of Pediatric Mechanical Cardiopulmonary Support at Children’s.

“Unfortunately, because this is a relatively small market, companies that make medical devices historically have not focused their attention on pediatric VADs,” Dr. Wearden said. “Because of this, our options for treating young children in heart failure have been extremely limited. Our hope is that these two projects will lead to the first pediatric devices being approved by the FDA for use in the United States.”

Under the leadership of Dr. Morell, Children’s Heart Center has established itself as one of the most active and innovative centers in the care of children in heart failure in the country over the last two decades. Children’s has performed more than 300 heart, heart-lung, lung and heart-liver transplants in children, including more than 200 heart transplants.

Learn more about Children’s Heart and Heart-Lung Transplantation Program.

Register for the live Web cast or view the post-event archived session. 

Last Update
May 29, 2008
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Last Update
May 29, 2008