Erasmus MC introduces new mobile support heart for children waiting for donor
Young children can now receive a new mobile support heart while waiting for a donor for the first time in the Netherlands, Erasmus MC Sophia announced on Thursday. This development allows children awaiting a donor to move more freely and, in the future, to maybe prepare for the transplant from their homes.
In instances of severe heart problems, a heart transplant may be the only option to save a child's life. While waiting for a suitable donor heart, children receive a temporary support heart taking on some of the heart’s functions.
However, the current support heart has limitations: it is large, heavy, and linked to a quickly draining battery. "It is the size of a small refrigerator," Matthijs de Hoog, head of pediatric IC at Erasmus MC Sophia, remarked. Children must always stay close to a power source while relying on this heart. Because of this support heart, children and their families often remain in the hospital for long periods, sometimes spanning months, until a donor heart becomes available.
The four-year-old girl Loulou is the first recipient of the new mobile support heart in the Netherlands. She suffers from a weak and enlarged left ventricle, leading to insufficient oxygen-rich blood flow. She awaits a heart transplant, and thanks to this new mobile device, she can now play outside, as shown by RTL Nieuws.
"If you are lying next to such a large refrigerator that is not mobile, you lie alone in the bed, or you sit on the chair next to it," Lennie van Osch, pediatric cardiologist at Erasmus MC Sophia, told RTL Nieuws. "With a mobile support heart you can get out of bed, start walking again, start moving and become stronger."
This mobiliy is also important in preparation for the transplant. "It is super important that you can train your muscles and use everything you have in your body,” said the pediatric cardiologist. "The better your condition is, the better you go into the transplant, and the better you get through the process of the transplant itself."
Eventually, the goal with the new mobile device is to discharge children with a support heart from the hospital."Then they can wait for the transplant at home in familiar surroundings. That's nice for everyone,” Matthijs de Hoog said.