New Jarvik heart pump gives new lease on life
“I can walk on my own now, climb a few stairs. I don’t feel fatigued all the time; I’m not always out of breath. It has turned my life around.”
Those words come from 47-year-old Darryl Brooks of Bellwood, Illinois, who became the first patient at Advocate Christ Medical Center and its Heart and Vascular Institute in Oak Lawn, Illinois, to receive a Jarvik 200 Flowmaker, the latest advancement in heart pumps under study at select medical centers nationally.
The clinical trial is intended to determine whether the Jarvik 2000 will prove effective long term in providing permanent support to patients who have end-stage congestive heart failure, but are not candidates for heart transplantation.
Brooks, who underwent the surgery to implant the device in January of this year, is now able to walk literally hundreds of feet without becoming short of breath. According to one of his heart surgeons, Dr. Antone Tatooles, “Mr. Brooks is doing very well. In terms of his overall function, as well as the overall performance of the new pump, we are pleased.”
About the size of a C-battery, the Jarvik 2000 pump is implanted into the heart’s left ventricle, which is the main pumping chamber. There, it assists the natural functions of the heart by helping move blood through a graft that is connected to the main blood vessel, from where the blood can then be distributed throughout the body.
What sets the Jarvik 2000 apart from other generations of heart pumps is the positioning of its drive line and the “novel design” of its connection to an outside power source, Dr. Tatooles says. Unlike standard pump drive lines that exit through a patient’s abdomen or side of chest to connect to a battery or other electrical source, the Jarvik 2000 cable is tunneled behind a rib, under the collarbone, through the back and up the neck, with the power-source connector exiting behind the ear and being screwed to the patient’s skull.
“Not only is the connector cosmetically unobtrusive, we believe its placement on the scalp behind the ear may lower a patient’s chances of developing an infection at the connector site,” Dr. Tatooles says. “The rich blood supply in the scalp may actually reduce infection risk. We don’t know that with certainty, of course, which is why we will be cautiously watching Mr. Brooks to see how he progresses.”
The Jarvik 2000 Flowmaker is only available as a permanent heart-support device through participation in the investigational trial. Brooks was a candidate for the study because of his worsening heart failure, which did not respond to medication, and because of his current ineligibility for a heart transplant, Dr. Tatooles says.
“I can do things now that I couldn’t do before,” Brooks said during a recent follow-up visit to the Mechanical Assist Device Center and clinic at Christ Medical Center’s Heart and Vascular Institute. “I feel blessed [to be part of the study].”
Click here to meet Brooks and see how the pump works.
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