Miniaturised heart pump undergoes international trials

19th August 2015

A man from Northern Ireland has become the first man in the world to receive a new heart pump which is half the size of traditional heart pumps.

Retired father-of-three Harry Chivers, 63, has been fitted with the Miniaturised Ventricular Assist Device (MVAD) at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

Harry was in advanced heart failure and waiting for a heart transplant when he was given the opportunity to join trials for the device. Reports say he has made good progress since the £80,000 device was implanted in July.

MVAD

The MVAD, produced by HeartWare International, also has sophisticated controls and settings that allow it to adapt better to patients’ lifestyles.

It weighs 78g and is around half the size of as previous devices. This may make it suitable for children with severe heart disease.

It is powered by a battery pack from a wire which passes out of the patient’s abdomen. The pack can be carried in a bag or around the waist.

The device is going through a lengthy trial process, with centres around the world fitting MVADs in dozens of patients.

A patient at the Medical University AKH in Vienna has also been fitted with the device.

The company said the MVAD is expected to result in improved blood flow through the body and allows doctors to customise it for each patient, providing four pulse settings designed to improve function of the aortic valve and reduce the risk of chronic bleeds.

"With the successful completion of these first implants in Europe, we are taking the next significant step in our efforts to help patients worldwide who suffer from advanced heart failure," said HeartWare chief executive Doug Godshall.

He said that the pump was less than half the size of the company’s HVAD® Pump – currently the smallest commercialised full-support device – and was designed to be implanted through a less-invasive incision in the chest wall.  

"We believe that the benefits of this novel device have the potential to lead to better patient outcomes and an improved quality of life for patients," said Professor Stephan Schueler, from the Freeman Hospital and an investigator in HeartWare's MVAD System CE Mark clinical trial.  

The company says that reducing the invasiveness of the surgery will not only enable doctors to treat a greater proportion of patients with heart failure but may offer a more attractive option to patients at an earlier stage of the disease progression.

The trial is due to enroll 60 patients at 11 sites in the United Kingdom, Austria, Australia, France and Germany.

In the UK, heart pumps are only allowed on the NHS for patients awaiting heart transplant.