The Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) program is available at all times for consultation.
A multidisciplinary team, lead by VAD trained medical and surgical physicians, reviews all referrals and assists in coordinating transport to our facility. Specialists in transplantation, hematology, pain, neurology, infectious disease and psychology all participate in the review process and are involved in referrals and recommendations.
VAD Implantation Procedure
After the patient selection and evaluation process is complete, a VAD trained surgical and perfusion team organizes and performs the device implant. The selection and evaluation process varies from patient to patient. A very sick patient can be done in a day, while a more stable outpatient scenario of considering a device could take weeks.
Implantation requires an open heart procedure which includes the attachment of the outflow and inflow tubing to the heart and the main artery of the body, the aorta. The pump is then attached to the tubes and pumps blood to the body. The patient is then recovered in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) until they are stabilized. Once the patient has been stabilized in the CICU, the patient is transitioned to our step down unit to wait for transplant or prepare for discharge home.
After the Procedure
Our VAD educators train the patients’ caregivers as they transverse through the inpatient units and prepare to go home with a device. Those children that qualify for discharge will be followed closely in the VAD/destination clinic as an outpatient.
For patients who are discharged on a device, VAD educators also train the patients’ community in case of emergency. There is a VAD team member available 24 hours a day for patient and parent questions.
Every patient going home with a device needs a community of trained caregivers. The individual must be with a VAD trained caregiver at all times. This individual is usually a family member and is trained while the patient is still in the hospital. Both the patient and caregiver are required to be able to perform daily and emergency care of the device. This education is provided by a VAD educator that provides demonstrations, skill assessments and administers written tests. The patient and caregiver must pass both written and hands on skill assessments before discharge. They also must pass emergency simulation drills. Once deemed safe the patient and caregiver are free to go home and enjoy life away from the hospital.
For the patient to feel safe and enjoy life away from the hospital, he or she needs to know that the emergency providers can help in an emergency. For this reason, we notify the fire department, EMS, electric and telephone companies of a MCS patient’s discharge. A thorough summary of the patient is given and appropriate training provided. The comprehensive VAD caregiver education program is an extensive process but well worth the effort to provide the patient and caregivers freedom and peace of mind.