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Heart & Vascular Center


Heart Transplant Options

Many patients with heart failure are candidates for a heart transplant. However, only a small percentage of heart failure patients will actually become a heart recipient because of the shortage of donor hearts. Barnes-Jewish & Washington University Heart & Vascular Center offers special expertise in other therapies and surgical options to help these patients.

Advanced treatments offered as alternatives to heart transplantation include:

  • Use of established drugs in more effective doses
  • Use of promising new agents available only in clinical trials

Alternative surgical options include:

Ventricular Assist Devices

Heart surgeons at the Heart & Vascular Center are pioneers in the use of ventricular assist devices. Ventricular assist devices serve as a "bridge to transplant," buying time for patients waiting for a heart. Patients with implanted ventricular assist devices receive top priority with regard to limited donor heart allocation. At Barnes-Jewish Hospital, 70 to 80 percent of congestive heart failure patients with a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) survive through heart transplant, a success that is above the national average.

If patients are not candidates for heart transplant, they may be candidates for an LVAD as destination therapy. The Heart & Vascular Center is the only facility in Missouri using the HeartMate device, which has been approved by the FDA as an alternative therapy for non-transplant candidates.

Ventricular assist devices are matched to specific patient needs and are continuously improving. Currently, Washington University researchers are exploring the use of mechanical assist devices as a permanent solution for heart failure patients.

Total Artificial Heart

Washington University heart transplant surgeons at Barnes-Jewish Hospital will be one of only nine surgical teams in the country to implant the CardioWest™ temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH-t) as a bridge-to-transplantation in specific heart transplant candidates.

The CardioWest™ TAH-t completely replaces the patient's diseased heart with a goal of restoring normal blood pressure and cardiac output and also facilitating recovery of end-organ function, such as the kidney and liver. As a result, patients become better candidates for transplantation. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the artificial heart for use as bridge-to-transplant in 2004 for patients at risk of imminent death from non-reversible biventricular failure.

For more information on the heart transplant program at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call .

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