Frank had a stroke, and then the doctors diagnosed him with Dilated Cardiomyopathy. That is not a Good Thing to have, as the heart muscle has become enlarged and weakened. Frank was in heart failure, and at the moment, he was not long for this world.
So doctors at the Texas Children’s Hospital placed Frank on the heart transplant list. And to help him survive until the transplant, they placed a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) inside his body. The VAD will literally help his heart function until a donor heart can be found. But Frank is different – he’s the very first pediatric patient to receive a VAD and be able to leave the hospital!
In the bad old days before VADs (which wasn’t that long ago) it was a race – the time it took to find a suitable donor heart verses the time it took for the patients original heart to finally just give out. And it was a high stakes race, too: if the patient lost this race, they lost their life. And too many patients were losing.
But a VAD can help a weak heart keep going, and give it a chance to win the race.