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PITT SURGEONS IMPLANT PATIENT WITH WEARABLE HEART-ASSIST SYSTEM

 PITTSBURGH, Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Heart transplant surgeons at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) have implanted their first patient with a wearable, electrically powered Novacor heart left ventricular/assist system (LVAS).
 A 57-year-old man with end-stage heart disease was implanted on Tuesday. He is in critical but stable condition in Presbyterian University Hospital's cardiothoracic intensive care unit.
 The wearable heart pump, which is made by Baxter Healthcare Corporation, is implanted in the patient's abdominal area and the miniaturized, electronic components and a battery pack are worn on a lightweight belt around the patient's waist or carried in a shoulder bag. The wearable system greatly enhances the patient's mobility and comfort by replacing the 400-pound, console-based unit to which previous patients were connected.
 The temporary device replaces the pumping action of the patient's left ventricle, the heart's main pumping chamber, while he or she awaits a human donor heart.
 "Supporting the heart's left ventricle provides a vital bridge to heart transplantation for irreversible heart failure in patients who would not survive while waiting for a suitable donor organ," said Robert Kormos, M.D., associate professor of surgery and head of the UPMC's artificial heart program.
 "We view this as an important step in reducing the overall expense of chronic heart disease," he continued. "It is our hope that patients wearing this device can be discharged from the hospital to wait at home for a donor heart. We expect this will have a tremendous, positive impact on health-care costs."
 Dr. Kormos performed the surgery with Si Pham, M.D., assistant professor of surgery. Surgery lasted approximately six hours.
 The LVAS compensates for the failing heart by relieving its work load, while maintaining a normal circulation. An inflow conduit directs blood from the heart's left ventricle into the pump. The pump then ejects blood through an outflow conduit into the body's arterial system.
 "This wearable LVAS represents an evolution of our electrically powered pump technology already embodied in nine years of clinical investigation with the console-based system," said Peer M. Portner, Ph.D., developer of the system and president of Baxter's Novacor Division. "While the implanted pump is unchanged, the electronic control-and-power subsystems have been miniaturized so they can be worn or easily carried.
 "The Novacor system will continue to evolve toward the ultimate goal of a fully implantable LVAS intended to be a long-term alternative to heart transplantation."
 The wearable implant at the UPMC was the second done in the United States. Earlier this year, an implant was performed at Stanford University Medical Center. Surgeons in Europe have performed 18 of the implants.
 The Novacor program at the UPMC began in July 1987. As of November 1993, 34 patients had been implanted with the console-based device. Patient time on the pump has ranged from two days to 303 days with an average of 51 days. About 70 patients are waiting for heart transplants at any one time in Pittsburgh.
 -0- 11/18/93
 /CONTACT: Frank Raczkiewicz, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 412/647-3555, or Mary Curtin, for Baxter, 212/265-9150/
 (BAX)


CO: Baxter Healthcare Corporation ST: Pennsylvania IN: HEA SU:

LG -- NY071 -- 6073 11/18/93 13:29 EST
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Date:Nov 18, 1993
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