Founded over a quarter of a century ago, the heart transplant program at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center has long been the premier cardiac transplant program in the US, performing the highest number of these surgeries.
To overcome long waiting lists for donor organs and other limitations, our surgeons have spearheaded an international effort to develop devices that provide mechanical support for failing hearts.
The Mechanical Circulatory Support Program, led by Yoshifumi Naka, MD, PhD, was founded at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia in 1990 to provide a bridge-to-transplantation—supporting patients' lives until suitable donor hearts became available. Today, we also offer mechanical assist devices as a destination therapy thus helping end-stage heart failure patients considered ineligible for transplant.
While heart transplantation once was the only hope for those with end stage heart failure, patients now have a wider range of options including VADs (Ventricular Assist Devices), ECMO (machines providing short-term heart and lung support) and the Total Artificial Heart.
New Generation VADS: HeartMate® and HeartWare®
Currently, the most common type of cardiac assist device is a left ventricular assist device (LVAD). We currently implant 60 to 80 LVADS each year, including the HeartMate® II, and the HeartWare® VAD, a third-generation device only available through clinical trials. We also employ another 50 short-term devices annually, including the CentriMag® VAD and ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation).
Among the First to Transplant the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart
Early in 2011, our surgeons transplanted their first Syncardia Total Artificial Heart. While VADs augment the failing heart, the Total Artificial Heart takes over the pumping action completely and the patient is no longer hampered by any diseases or abnormalities of the native heart.
Better Outcomes, Quality of Life with a Multidisciplinary Approach
Daily multidisciplinary rounds are a unique feature of our program providing the highest level of communication among many different medical experts. Surgeons and cardiologists specializing in heart failure participate along with ICU intensivists, pharmacists, VAD nurses and nurse practitioners. As the patient progresses, nutritionists, physical therapists and social workers join the team.
This approach allows us to significantly improve both the quality and continuity of care our patients receive. We are happy to report that this also results in better outcomes and improved quality of life.
Our team educates patients and their caregivers in how to maintain their devices and provides long-term follow-up care.