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The Berlin Heart Brings Hope to Children in Need of Transplants

Over 3,200 patients around the world sit anxiously on the waiting list to receive a heart transplant, hoping for their chance to escape the jaws of death. Only 70 or 80 hearts are supplied each year by donors, giving the chance for a few lucky patients live on, but many- especially children and newborns- die while struggling to survive. Despite the shortage of donated hearts for these patients a new device called “The Berlin Heart” has been initiated for pediatric patients, and, according to researchers, is proven to increase their life-span momentarily while awaiting a transplant.

How Does The Berlin Heart Work?The Berlin Heart Device

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December 2011, the Berlin Heart is a ventricular assist device (VAD) marketed by Merck & Co. for infants, children, and adolescents under the age of 18 who have a failing heart. Doctors implement the mechanism by attaching cannulas (small tubes) into the heart which protrude from the skin and connect to a blood-pumping device for controlling circulation. Since its release, the Berlin Heart has been given to about 1,000 patients globally who are on the waiting list for heart transplants.

Does it Work?

Yes! According to professionals, the success of the the Berlin Heart is more than astonishing. Dr. Fraser from Texas Children’s Hospital explains that about 1/3 of the patients on the waiting list are met with death before being given the chance to receive a transplant. Through the use of the Berlin Heart, the survival rate of helpless, transplant-needing infants and children has increased drastically. Compared to the traditional extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) procedure, the new device has decreased the mortality rate by approximately 13% for infants. Studies also show that of the children using The Berlin Heart, 92% had successfully lived on to successfully receive heart transplants.

What Are the Benefits and Risks of the Berlin Heart?

Children and infants suffering from heart dysfunction commonly develop many other health problems, including the need for a ventilator (breathing device), becoming malnourished, and requiring endless amounts of medicine. Reports reveal that patients who have received the Berlin Heart are able to breathe properly, eat more healthily on their own, and even have an increased ability to move.

In all its brilliance, the Berlin Heart does not come without risks. The product may account for high blood pressure, a raised risk for infection, and an increased possibility for strokes. However, for patients who have been disheartened by the thought of a life-long wait for a transplant, this downside is a minor road block when compared to the risk of death.



http://www.unos.org/donation/index.php?topic=data United Network for Organ Sharing Data