It can take months, even years to find a suitable donor for a child who needs a heart transplant. But a new device is letting kids like Maddie Shaw "keep the beat" in the meantime.
The three-year-old picked up a rare virus that damaged her heart. Now, she's on the transplant list for a new heart. The scary part is over a fourth of the kids on a waiting list die before a donor is found. The good news is, the odds are better for Maddie now, thanks to a first-of-its-kind heart pump for kids.
It's called the Berlin heart. It's a ventricular assist device that sits outside of the chest. A pair of tubes connects it to the heart and vessels to keep blood circulating through the body.
Maddies' mother Shannon Shaw says, "If we didn't have the Berlin heart we would not be here today."
Dr. Ron Gajarski, a Pediatric Cardiologist says, "You can be very mobile with this device. Maddie, as a matter of fact, walks every day and she can be up in a chair, she can play, sit in bed, etc.,"
Since donors are scarce, this pump is designed for long-term use. In fact, Maddie's Berlin Heart has been working around the clock for about eight months. Now, she and her family are still hoping it will keep pumping until the day a real donor heart answers the call.
The German-made Berlin Heart does not yet have FDA approval for use in the United States yet, but special permission is given only on a so-called compassionate use basis.