Your heart in our hands

The progression of the Ventricular Assist Device (VAD)

Oldest models - left to right (top), Newest models - left to right (bottom)

If you suffer from end-stage heart failure you may be fitted with a 'Bionic Heart' known as a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD).

This mechanical, motorised device helps to pump blood through your body, allowing your heart to rest, and hopefully recover, while you wait for a life-saving heart transplant.

Thanks to research like that conducted in the Innovative Cardiovascular Engineering Technology Lab (ICETLAB) at The Prince Charles Hospital, VADs have come a long way over the years.

Starting out as large, bulky devices that sat outside your chest (top) visibly pumping your blood, accompanied by a suitcase-sized battery back, which was wheeled around with you at all times to power the motor. VADs have now progressed to much smaller more portable devices that are fitted directly into the heart (bottom) with a battery pack you can carry in a small bag or backpack.

The device on the bottom left is a demonstration of the latest model of VAD currently used throughout the world for heart failure patients. Although its a vast improvement on previous models, it still comes with its own set of complications – something that our researchers are hoping to eliminate.

Imagine how much better it would be if we could power these life-saving devices without cords - reducing the risk of infections and allowing patients to properly shower or even swim, or we could find a better and faster way to attach them to the heart, reducing patient's time on bypass and reduce complications from bleeding?

Or, could we even develop a mechanical heart that could take the place of heart transplants in future?

Find out more about the projects being undertaken in the ICETLAB HERE.

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Heart Research

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