Treatment options for heart failure
Medications can help manage heart failure for many children. When medications alone are not effective, Children’s Mercy also offers ventricular assist devices (VADs), which provide critical support to kids as they wait for a new heart.
Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD)
VADs are used in patients with severe heart failure to improve blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. When standard medical management has not be able to correct the heart’s pumping problem, these devices are used as a bridge to heart transplant.
The most common device used at Children's Mercy is the Berlin Heart EXCOR pediatric VAD. This can be used to support the left, right, or both sides of the heart depending on your child's needs.
Cannulas (flexible tubes) are sewn into the heart and connected to a pump, or pumps, outside the body. A machine connected to the pump takes over the workload of the heart and allows for adequate blood flow to the body.
When the VAD improves the function of the heart, other organs begin to work properly as well. Although your child must remain in the hospital while on this device, it allows for them to resume some regular activities and have improved quality of life while waiting for transplant.
Kids at Children’s Mercy on a VAD have access to all kinds of resources. From playgroups and teen hangouts organized by Child Life specialists to first steps and tricycle rides with physical therapists, our support specialists help your child stay on track with developmental and academic milestones, as well as help them have fun and stay positive while they are in the hospital.