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Heart transplant patient survives thanks to tiny temporary pump

World First at the MUHC!

Heart specialists at the McGill University Health Centre are the first in the world to implant a minimally-invasive cardiac support system called the Impella 5.0 into a patient who was suffering from acute rejection after a heart transplant. The procedure was performed in the heart catheterization lab by Dr. Renzo Cecere, Director of the MUHC Mechanical Heart Program, and Dr. Jean Phillipe Pelletier, an MUHC Interventional Cardiologist, on February 19.

"In the worldwide experience of about 300 implants of the Impella 5.0, this is the first case of its use in a heart transplant patient suffering from severe acute rejection,” states Dr. Cecere. “This device allowed us to stabilize the patient's condition until she responded to the powerful anti-rejection medications. Without this new technology, this patient would likely not have survived."

Already available in the US and Europe, the Impella 5.0 is most often used as a bridge to a more permanent therapy, allowing doctors more time to develop a definitive treatment strategy. It is designed to help restore cardiac stability in patients who develop heart failure after heart surgery and who have not responded to standard medical therapy. In this case however, the device was implanted in transplant patient where the main purpose was to take the pressure off the patient’s heart in order to allow it time to heal from the trauma of an acute rejection.

The Impella 5.0 is made up of a miniature pump which is mounted in a catheter and inserted through a small incision in the patient’s groin area. The catheter is advanced from the groin to the left ventricle of the heart, where it can stay for up to ten days.

"The Impella system is the most recent acquisition of the MUHC Mechanical Heart Program, and further expands our ability to offer state-of-the-art treatments to patients with advanced heart disease," says Dr. Cecere. Health Canada accepted the technology for use in this country in June, 2007.

About the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC)
The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research and teaching. The MUHC is a merger of five teaching hospitals affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University––the Montreal Children’s, Montreal General, Royal Victoria, and Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, as well as the Montreal Chest Institute. Building on the tradition of medical leadership of the founding hospitals, the goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field, and to contribute to the development of new knowledge.

Rebecca Burns | MUHC
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