Expertise and advanced treatment options available at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, provide a bridge for patients awaiting a heart transplant. If a heart transplant is necessary, we have sophisticated ventricular assist devices (VADs) to help keep the child stable until a donor heart is available. VADs are surgically implanted pumps that help support the heart for days or months.
If you think your child may need a consultation, call us. We can get you an appointment quickly.
Your child will receive a thorough examination from a team that includes Norton Children’s Heart Institute transplant team physicians, pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons, neurologists, an infectious disease specialist, pediatric psychology provider and a Hearts & Hands Care Team member.
Children with the following conditions may require a VAD:
Our sophisticated VADs include:
First the patient is evaluated. This process varies from patient to patient. It may take a day or a week. Afterward, a VAD-trained surgical and perfusion team implants the device through an open heart procedure, which includes the attachment of the outflow and inflow tubing to the heart and the aorta, or main artery of the body. The pump is then attached to the tubes and pumps blood to the body.
The patient recovers in the intensive care unit until they are stabilized. The patient is then transitioned to our step-down unit to wait for their transplant or prepare to wait at home.
Our VAD team will train and prepare the patient and caregivers if they will be going home. Children who qualify for discharge from the hospital will be closely followed as an outpatient.
For children discharged from the hospital with a VAD, our educators will help train the child’s family and caregivers, as well as emergency response caregivers in the community, in case of emergency. A VAD team member is available 24 hours a day for questions.
Every patient going home with a VAD needs a team of trained caregivers. He or she must be with a mechanical circulatory support (MCS)-trained provider at all times. This individual usually is a family member and trained while the patient is still in the hospital. Both the patient and caregiver need to be able to perform daily and emergency care of the device.
An MCS educator provides demonstrations, assesses skills and administers written tests to the trained patients and family members. The patient and caregivers must pass written and hands-on skill assessments before going home. They also must pass emergency simulation drills. After this education, the child and caregiver are free to go home and enjoy life away from the hospital.
Norton Children’s Hospital will notify the fire department, emergency medical services (EMS), electric and telephone companies of an MCS patient’s discharge. They will receive a thorough summary of the patient and appropriate training.
Your child may be added to the following registries: