Manufactured by Thoratec, the HeartMate II is the only long-term LVAD (left ventricular assisted device) to have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat end-stage heart failure, a condition in which the heart can no longer pump enough blood to the rest of the body. The LVAD does not replace the heart but rather is a small pump—approximately 3 inches long and weighing less than a pound—that is implanted in the chest to help move oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.
For Morey, who has a family history of heart disease, the HeartMate II presented a better alternative to waiting in the hospital for a heart transplant.
“The fact remains that there are not enough donor hearts available for the patients who could benefit from them,” said Morey’s surgeon Stuart Miller, M.D., division of cardiothoracic surgery. “And for those patients awaiting a transplant, they are required to remain hospitalized, often for months at a time, until a heart becomes available. Unlike other LVADs, the HeartMate II allows patients to live a relatively normal life, in the comfort of their own surroundings, until a donor heart becomes available.”
The FDA approved the HeartMate II for “bridge-to-transplantation” in April 2008. In January 2010, the HeartMate II received FDA approval for what is known as “destination therapy,” long-term support for patients who do not qualify for a transplant due to age or other circumstances. In cases where transplant is indicated, Albany Med will work in collaboration with a transplant center and provide the preparatory and follow-up care for patients.
He suffered his first heart attack in 1994 that required a quadruple bypass. A few years later, he developed atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm), a sign of congestive heart failure, and received an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, which can detect an arrhythmia and deliver an electrical shock to the heart to correct it. By August 2010, Morey’s health took a turn for the worse and he was placed on the drug milrinone to help contract the left ventricle. When the medication failed 22 months later, Morey was faced with what he believed to be his last option, a transplant.
“I was fortunate that I was a suitable candidate for LVAD,” said Morey, who remains on the transplant waiting list at Tufts Medical Center, in Boston, MA. “If I wasn’t provided this option I would have had to remain in Boston, which would have been difficult for my wife and family. Now, I can go back to living my life, feeling good. And as long as I have my batteries with me, I can feel safe.” According to Morey, he is looking forward to spending time with his wife, Kathleen Sheridan, his children and grandchildren, and helping others who are faced with a similar decision.
This achievement comes on the heels of Albany Med having recently received advanced certification in heart failure from the Joint Commission.
Albany Medical Center, northeastern New York’s only academic health sciences center, is one of the largest private employers in the Capital Region. It incorporates the 651-bed Albany Medical Center Hospital, which offers the widest range of medical and surgical services in the region, and the Albany Medical College, which trains the next generation of doctors, scientists and other healthcare professionals, and which also includes a biomedical research enterprise and the region’s largest physicians practice with 325 doctors. Albany Medical Center works with dozens of community partners to improve the region’s health and quality of life. For more information: www.amc.edu or www.facebook.com/albanymedicalcenter.
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