Pump up the ventricle!

I’ve received a press release from my friends at the Broken Hearts of the Big Bend concerning new heart pumps – better known as Ventricular Assist Devices (VADs) – being developed at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. These VADs are pretty special – they are just the right size for children! (Make sure that you page down to the bottom of the page and see just how small these devices really are!)

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has signed a contract with Maryland to begin preclinical testing of the new devices. Preclinical testing occurs before the new instrument is ever used – it’s a test of systems and a safety study. And you may know one of the VAD developers: Dr. Robert Jarvick, who invented the Jarvick-7 artificial heart.

Ventricular Assist Devices (usually attached to the Left Ventricle and sometimes called LVADs) are small, self-contained pumps that can be surgically attached to a heart and help it pump blood. With the workload reduced, a weak heart can function longer and increase the odds of lasting until a heart transplant becomes available. Under the right circumstances the heart can rest and regain some function.

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