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Bright Futures

Articles and Updates from Phoenix Children's

February 11, 2021, Wisotzkey, Bethany, MD ,
Waiting for Heart Made Easier with a VAD - Aidyn’s Story
Waiting for Heart Made Easier with a VAD - Aidyn’s Story

Here at Phoenix Children’s Heart Center, we continue to expand our mechanical circulatory support program. We have a dedicated team of physicians, surgeons, nurses, nurse practitioners and a host of other specialists who care for our patients requiring ventricular assist devices.

A ventricular assist device, or VAD, is a pump that is placed in the heart to help it to pump blood throughout the body. Often children with end stage heart failure, who require heart transplantation, will need support while they wait for heart transplant. This can be achieved with a surgery to place a VAD which can then function in place of the heart that is not working well.

There are many different types of VADs and which one is right for each patient depends on a number of factors including size as well as underlying heart condition and anatomy. We are fortunate to be able to offer both short term (Pedimag and Centrimag) and long term (Berlin Heart EXCOR, Heartware HVAD, Heart Mate 3, Total Artificial Heart) support options here at Phoenix Children’s Heart Center and we are experts at choosing the best option for each individual patient.

But our care doesn’t stop there.

Aidyn’s Story

Recently, our fantastic child life team was able to help one of our patients cope and understand what it meant to have a Berlin heart left ventricular assist device placed using her very own doll. When Aidyn was only a toddler, she was diagnosed with a rare (fewer than 20,000 cases per year in U.S.) type of pediatric kidney cancer known as a Wilms tumor. She needed one of her kidneys removed, and had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Aidyn did well and recovered from her cancer treatments, but unfortunately, those treatments led to a type of heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy. Her heart muscle stopped squeezing well enough and she developed symptoms of heart failure. It was decided that Aidyn, now 9 years old, needed a heart transplant, as medications alone could not help her heart to function better. While waiting for transplant, Aidyn needed to undergo a VAD placement to help decrease the pressures in her heart and lungs and help her get ready for heart transplantation.

Waiting for Heart Made Easier with a VAD - Aidyn’s Story

After recovering from her Berlin heart surgery, Aidyn thrived and could generally be found in the playroom working on one of her many craft projects, going on hunts for princesses throughout the CVICU, even hosting a piano recital for the staff! Aidyn was able to get better nutrition and work on physical therapy while on a VAD rather than being stuck in bed without the energy or the ability to do those things. This will make her care journey, while waiting and after heart transplantation, so much better.

This is just one small example of how our amazing VAD team in the Phoenix Children’s Heart Center is helping each and every heart warrior in their journey. We’re extremely grateful to our patients, like Aidyn, for allowing us to be part of that journey.

Happy Heart Month!

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