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University of Pittsburgh medical center among first to implant heart assist device

PITTSBURGH, July 20 The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) today is discharging its first patient who was successfully implanted, on July 2, with the Heartmate XVE Left Ventricular Assist System (LVAS). It was implanted as a permanent implant in lieu of a heart transplant, as opposed to the traditional use for this type of device.

The patient, 58-year-old John Didion, has recovered well enough to be discharged to his home in Allison Park, Pa.

The Heartmate XVE (LVAS) is a long-term permanent assist device approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this so-called destination therapy in patients with end-stage heart failure who, despite receiving optimal treatment, have a life expectancy of less than two years and are not viable candidates for heart transplantation.

"I never thought this day would be possible," said Mr. Didion. "I am so grateful to the dedicated staff at UPMC. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't be here today. I am living proof that this works."

Last fall, UPMC was among the first centers to receive approval from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to implant left ventricular assist systems approved by the FDA, and UPMC is only one of two approved centers in western Pennsylvania to implant the Heartmate XVE.

"We are pleased to be able to bring this new technology and therapeutic approach to our patients," said Robert L. Kormos, M.D., professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of UPMC's Artificial Heart and Heart Transplant programs. "Heart transplantation is still the best option for long-term survival, but unfortunately, is not feasible for everyone. This new therapy allows us to return people to productive lives at home as an alternative to dying from end-stage congestive heart failure."

"The Heartmate XVE has been developed to be a viable therapy and is giving new hope to people," said Dennis McNamara, M.D., asso
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