STONY BROOK, N.Y., May 18, 2010 – Arthur Plowden, 42, of Amityville, N.Y., calls himself “half man, half amazing.” He invented the phrase a few weeks after he became the first patient ever at a Long Island hospital to receive a HeartMate II left ventricular assist device (LVAD). The high-tech mechanism is attached to the heart and aorta to assist the pumping of the heart’s left chamber. Before the April 6 surgery at Stony Brook University Medical Center, Plowden had late stage heart failure and was running out of medical options.
“I feel incredible, it’s actually shocking to me, in a good way,” said Plowden, during his first outpatient follow-up visit one month after surgery. “My energy level is very high, like it was well before I had heart failure, and the device is very easy for me to monitor and hold in a pack at my side. I love my new life.”
Plowden’s physician, Hal Skopicki, M.D., Director of the Heart Failure Program at Stony Brook University Medical Center and Co-Director of the Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Program at SBUMC, treated his patient with state-of-the-art therapies before the device was attached. Allison McLarty, M.D., SBUMC cardiothoracic surgeon and Co-Director of the VAD Program implanted the device.
“Mr. Plowden is doing remarkably well,” said Dr. Skopicki, shortly after the patient’s follow-up visit on May 5. “We are seeing immediate results, with improvements in his quality of life and overall health. His LVAD has the ability to assist his heart to pump oxygen-rich blood efficiently throughout his body.”
For the past two years, Plowden, who has had heart trouble since he was a boy, medically deteriorated with heart failure. He said most days he felt weak and tired. After testing him, Dr. Skopicki and Dr. McLarty at Stony Brook believed he was a good candidate for LVAD.
“When I understood that my options were limited, and I could just collapse and possibly die on the spot, on any given day because my condition was so bad, I decided that getting this device could be a life saver. Then when I said ‘OK’ the doctors went for it and got it done. Now look at me, I am myself again.”
In Plowden’s case, the device was implanted to offer the best hope for him to survive long enough and well enough to receive heart transplantation.
This successful implantation of the first permanent LVAD performed at SBUMC holds promise for many heart failure patients in the region. The current LVAD engineering, using the device that Dr. McLarty implanted into Plowden, called the Heartmate II and approved by the Food and Drug Administration in January 2010, represents a new generation of artificial heart technology.
“The technology can be used in older patients, even those who are not candidates for heart transplantation,” said Dr. McLarty. “In some reports, the device is working even after 5 years. If the patient remains healthy, a newer LVAD could then replace the old one.”
Plowden is ecstatic about his current implant and can’t wait to get back to some of his favorite things to do – landscaping, working out, and fishing. The SBUMC physicians said with continued progress, he will be able to be involved in all those activities in the near future.
The Stony Brook University Heart Center is Long Island’s only university-based medical program dedicated to cardiovascular disease. The physicians, nurses, and staff of the Heart Center are committed to delivering the latest lifesaving advances in heart and vascular care with effectiveness, compassion, and safety for patients and their families.
Arthur Plowden, center, at his first outpatient follow-up visit following life-saving heart surgery that involved implantation of a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) at Stony Brook University Medical Center. With Plowden are members of the SBU Heart Center team, from left: Hal Skopicki, M.D., Director, Heart Failure Program; Kathleen Newton, R.N.; Allison McLarty, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon, and Karen Garland-Smrek, R.N.