U-M LVAD patient lives a full life while awaiting heart transplant

Catching up with LaVishia McDonald about life with a left ventricular assist device


LaVishia McDonald had already given birth to five children, so when her sixth child was born in 2008, she knew her symptoms and extreme fatigue weren’t normal. “I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t breathe. My legs were swollen. I knew something was very wrong,” she remembers.

When her condition didn’t improve, LaVishia’s primary doctor, who suspected a heart condition, recommended she be seen at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. Continue reading

Top 5 Takeaways on Heart Failure

Dr. Todd Koelling's Mini Med School presentation focuses on heart failure

mini_med_school_cardiovascular_graphic heart blogLeading U-M Frankel CVC researchers and physicians are advancing knowledge, finding new treatments and applying new technologies. Each week one of them shared his or her expertise in a six-week Mini Med School community education program focused on cardiovascular topics.

Here are the Top 5 Takeaways from Dr. Todd Koelling’s Mini Med School presentation on Heart Failure:

1. A serious health concern

More than 5 million people in the United States suffer from heart failure. It is the most common cause of hospitalizations for those over the age of 65 in the U.S. and represents a huge cost burden for Americans. Heart failure is caused by the inability of the heart to pump blood efficiently to oxygenate various organs throughout the body.

The two major categories of heart failure are low ejection fraction and preserved ejection fraction. An ejection fraction is an important measurement of how well your heart is pumping and is used to help classify heart failure and guide treatment. Continue reading

ICD and LVAD lead to a better quality of life

U-M patient Theresa Sturgill shares her story

Theresa blogTheresa Sturgill is enjoying her life these days. She’s doing all the things she loves, including walking, shopping, even traveling to Wichita, Kansas, to visit her son, which is somewhat of a milestone for a woman who felt her life might be ending nine years ago.

Today, an ICD and LVAD — implantable cardioverter defibrillator and left ventricular assist device — are keeping her going strong.

An ICD provides immediate therapy for a life-threatening arrhythmia where the heart is beating too quickly or too slowly. ICDs continuously monitor heart rhythms and are programmed to deliver pacing impulses to restore the heart’s natural rhythm, which can, in some cases, avoid the need for a shock. If necessary, however, the ICD will deliver a shock to the heart.

LVADs work by pumping blood from the left ventricle (lower part of the heart) and moving it forward into the aorta, the main blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. LVADs assist the weakened heart muscle via a pump implanted inside the body. Continue reading

Meet the longest living HeartMate II LVAD recipient

David Pierce shares his journey

Judy and David Pierce enjoy the company of their granddaughters.

Judy and David Pierce enjoy the company of their granddaughters.

Over the last 10 years, left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) have proved to be a viable alternative to heart transplants. The procedure gives patients a chance to experience a better overall quality of life, especially those who are not candidates for heart transplant.

The University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center is home to one of the world’s largest and most experienced LVAD programs. In fact, U-M’s LVAD program has successfully implanted more than 580 long-term devices in patients.

One man’s journey with the HeartMate II LVAD

One of those is David Pierce, who has the distinguished recognition as being the longest living HeartMate II LVAD patient in the U.S. David received his first LVAD on May 26, 2004, at the age of 52. Today, he is living a happy, healthy life — and spending precious time with his family.

Continue reading