NTU Newsletter April 2014  
  Research Achievements  
NTU Surgeons Have 100% Success Rate in Portable Heart Device Implants

NTU Hospital performed its first portable ventricular assist device implant in 2011 and a Mr. T became its latest recipient last September

Heart surgeons at NTU Hospital have had a 100% success rate for the implantation of portable ventricular assist devices (VAD) since first performing the complicated procedure in April 2011. Portable VADs improve both the survival and quality of life of patients suffering from end-stage heart failure. The hospital's four portable VAD recipients all recovered stable heart functions, returned to their careers, and continue to enjoy fulfilling lives.

In September 2013, Mr. T, a recipient of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) under intensive care, became the hospital's latest portable VAD implant recipient.

Prior to receiving the implants, the recipients all had suffered severe heart failure and had been receiving longterm treatment with cardiac stimulants to remain alive. The severity of their condition made them all eligible for priority placement on Taiwan's current heart transplant waiting list. Three of the patients had type O blood and had waited in vain for a matching heart donor for a long time. Following numerous clinical discussions, the patients were selected to receive portable VAD implants. The latest patient, Mr. T, had type A blood and had been receiving ECMO due to sudden heart failure.

Heart transplants remain the most effective treatment for end-stage heart failure. Howeveras Taiwan organ donations fall short of patients' needs and heart donations averaged only 85 per year, many patients passed away while on the waiting list during the last five years.

The greatest concern for patients suffering from end-stage heart failure is that they will experience multiple organ failure and die while waiting for a suitable donor. Heart patients whose condition continues to deteriorate might be required to resort to ECMO or such devices as VADs to stay alive. However, the older generation of VADs were very noisy and heavy which limited a patient's mobility. As patients needed to remain in the hospital to use the older VADs and had to endure a high-decible noise, the devices were only appropriate for short-term use.

NTU Hospital continuously strives to work on the cutting edge in the field of heart surgery, constantly seeking and introducing new procedures. As a result of the recent case of Mr. T, whose portable VAD implant enabled him to return home even after being kept alive on ECMO, NTU Hospital's heart surgeons have become fully determined to move forward with portable VAD implants to give light and hope to even more patients.