Services & Specialties
Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Program

Pediatric Ventricular Assist Device Program

Hearing that you or your child is in end-stage heart failure is a very frightening time. The Heart Institute at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center has many device options that may be used to mechanically move blood through the body to all the vital organ systems. Mechanical circulatory support (MCS) is a term used to describe these machines and may include ventricular assist devices (VADs), ECMO, or Cardiopulmonary Bypass.

A VAD is a small pump that sits inside or outside the body and does the job of the heart when the heart is too sick to pump. VADs can support a patient’s blood flow to their body until their heart recovers, is replaced by a transplanted heart, or for the duration of the patient’s life (destination therapy).

Our Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) program is a nationally recognized leader in MCS.

Full Spectrum of Conditions Supported

Patients travel from throughout the United States to receive care from our VAD team. We offer mechanical support options for patients with end-stage heart diseases such as:

  • Chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy
  • Chronic and acute transplant rejection
  • Congenital heart disease, such as Fontan failure
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) – associated cardiomyopathy
  • Hypertonic cardiomyopathy
  • Left ventricular noncompaction cardiomyopathy
  • Myocarditis
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy

Our VAD Program uses devices to support patients while they wait for a donor heart (bridge-to-transplant) or to recover a heart in temporary dysfunction (bridge-to-recovery).

We also support patients with VADs who are not transplant candidates (destination therapy). Destination therapy can be an alternative to heart transplantation for ineligible patients or an option for patients who do not want to pursue transplantation.

Devices Available

Our VAD program offers a broad range of circulatory support devices, which enables us to support all children and young adults, regardless of size or cause of heart disease. The person’s size, age and disease state are all taken into account when deciding what device is right for each patient. Our approach to care is individual to each patient, making us unique in the field of mechanical circulatory support.

Short-term/transport support devices

  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • Impella
  • Rotaflow
  • Cardiohelp System
  • Centrimag and Pedimag

Long-term support devices

  • 50cc and 70cc Total Artificial Heart
  • Berlin Heart
  • HeartMate 3

Lung assist devices

  • Quadrox

ACTION Learning Network

The Advanced Cardiac Therapies Improving Outcomes Network (ACTION) includes more than 57 pediatric hospitals across North America. ACTION’s mission is to improve critical outcomes for congenital heart disease patients with heart failure by developing an international collaborative learning health system. It unites key stakeholders, including patients, families, clinicians, researchers and industries. Cincinnati Children’s Heart Institute houses the operations team and data coordinating center, and many faculty and staff are active leaders.

ACTION’s collaborative efforts have reduced stroke rates for pediatric VAD patients by <50%, as of January 202. The Berlin Heart EXCOR is the most-used VAD in children, and for this patient population, stroke rates have decreased from 30% to 12%, due to ACTION’s efforts. The stroke rate for children with implantable VADs, such as the HeartMate 3, have decreased from 10% to less than 5% in this same time period.

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Heart and Mind Wellbeing Center

All of our Heart Institute patients, including those in the VAD Program, are able to take advantage of our Heart and Mind Wellbeing Center. This center, the first of its kind in the United States, provides individualized emotional support and mental health care for patients and families affected by heart conditions, parents and siblings included.

Cardiology & Heart Surgery.

Top Ten in the Nation

U.S. News & World Report ranked our Joint Pediatric and Congenital Heart Program, in conjunction with Kentucky Children’s Hospital, as one of the top ten hospitals in the nation for cardiology and heart surgery.


Heart Encyclopedia

Heart Encyclopedia.
Learn about pediatric heart defects and disorders in our Heart Institute Encyclopedia. Learn More