More quality of life for children with heart disease

Little Barbare (5) stays calm as Dr. Eugen Sandica, Director of the Pediatric Heart Center and Center for Congenital Heart Defects at the Herz- und Diabeteszentrum NRW (HDZ NRW), Bad Oeynhausen, rings in a new era of artificial cardiac support for children and adolescents: the experienced heart specialist began working this week with the world's first and only lightweight (15 kg) yet most powerful drive system for mobile cardiac support (Excor® Active, Berlin Heart). It offers children with severe heart diseases, like Barbare, greater freedom of movement and considerably improved quality of life.

"We have waited a long time for this huge technological leap forward", says Dr. Sandica from the Pediatric Heart Center and Center for Congenital Heart Defects in Bad Oeynhausen. He works hand in hand with the pediatric cardiologists at the HDZ to offer the whole spectrum of available therapeutic options to children and adolescents with heart diseases. "Particularly little patients with very severe cardiac insufficiency often have to stay in our hospital for long periods of time. Up until now they had to rely on a heavyweight (90 kg) drive device which considerably restricted their movement." This large and heavy console has to remain connected to the implanted assist device and power supply and can only be disconnected for about 30 minutes at a time. The system is intended to provide relief for the diseased heart muscle until it is able to recover. In most cases, however, its real purpose is to save the heart from pump failure and bridge the wait until a heart transplant becomes possible.

Dr. Sandica transferred Barbare from the large drive to the new mobile system in an operation performed in the Pediatric Heart Center ICU. Barbare was born with a congenital myocardial disease and has been in Bad Oeynhausen waiting for a donor heart for nearly four months now. With the new system, the girl is allowed to undertake little trips through the ward. Her treatment at the Pediatric Heart Center also includes physiotherapy.

In Bad Oeynhausen, the largest heart transplantation center in Germany, experience with artificial heart pumps (ventricular assist devices – VAD) in children and adolescents is very encouraging: to date, Dr. Eugen Sandica and his team have implanted 47 Berlin Heart systems in children aged 0-16 years, with the longest support time being 619 days. Nearly all of these children could be successfully transplanted. In eight patients, the diseased heart recovered. The Bad Oeynhausen statistics reveal an outstanding survival rate with the Berlin Heart pediatric assist device of 93%, making the Pediatric Heart Center one of the most successful treatment centers of its type in the world.

The new drive, available for the first time worldwide from German manufacturer Berlin Heart GmbH (Berlin), weighs just 15 kg and is about the size of a trolley suitcase. It can be pushed or carried as hand luggage in combination with a buggy. Its battery remains charged for up to 7 hours. The system is called Excor® Active and was awarded the CE mark of conformity for use in Europe last November. Dr. Eugen Sandica: "We are very proud that, when launching their new drive system, the manufacturers chose to rely on our Center and its wealth of experience." Immediately after he began working with the device on Tuesday, the German Heart Center in Berlin followed.

Further information:
Herz- und Diabeteszentrum Nordrhein-Westfalen
Universitätsklinik der Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Leitung: Anna Reiss
Georgstr. 11
32545 Bad Oeynhausen
Tel. 05731 97-1955
Fax 05731 97-2028
E-Mail: info@hdz-nrw.de

Dr. Eugen Sandica machte mit seiner Patientin Barbare (5) einen ersten Ausflug im Kinderherzzentrum Bad Oeynhausen (Foto Marcel Mompour).

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