Columbia surgeons routinely remove, repair, and transplant human hearts.
But replacing the entire heart with something else entirely? That is a rare undertaking—especially in a child.
“There are about three or four places in the world that could have done a total artificial heart in a child like we did at Columbia,” says Emile Bacha, MD, the Calvin F. Barber Professor of Surgery at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and chief of the Division of Cardiac, Thoracic, and Vascular Surgery at Columbia University Irving Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian.
The procedure, a total artificial heart in a pediatric patient, was a first for Bacha and his team and the first performed in the northeastern United States.
The surgery entails removing the failing heart and replacing it with a device that functions in its stead, at least until a viable transplant becomes available and the patient is ready for a long-term donor heart.
The SynCardia total artificial heart has been used with some frequency in adults, but it wasn’t until the advent of a smaller model that its use in children became a possibility. When the right patient came along with need for a viable bridge to a full transplant, Columbia was ready.
Watch the video above to learn more about the procedure and what it might mean for future patients at Columbia.