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Ventricular assist devices and total artificial heart

Heart transplant alternatives

If you suffer from heart failure, a heart transplant may be your best option for treatment. However, while there are many people in the United States who need a lifesaving heart transplant, there are a limited number of donor hearts available. And some people aren't candidates for heart transplant because of health issues or other concerns.

The VCU Health Pauley Heart Center offers other options for advanced heart failure patients, including ventricular assist devices (VADs) and the total artificial heart (TAH).

Ventricular Assist Devices (VADs)

A ventricular assist device (VAD), also known as a mechanical circulatory support device, is a machine that pumps blood from the lower chambers of your heart to the rest of your body. To implant the VAD in your heart, your doctor will need to perform open heart surgery. And while it's a major procedure, it could save your life.

Your doctor may recommend a VAD if:

  • You aren't a candidate for a heart transplant. A VAD can be a destination therapy for patients who cannot have a heart transplant because of age or other factors.
  • Your heart failure is temporary. Your doctor may recommend a VAD until your heart can pump blood on its own.
  • You're waiting for a heart transplant. In this case, the VAD is considered a bridge to transplant, keeping the blood pumping in your body while you're waiting for a donor heart to become available.

Temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH-t)

Some patients who are waiting for a heart transplant may not be able to undergo treatment with a VAD. For these patients, the Pauley Heart Center offers the option of a temporary total artificial heart (TAH-t), which is a plastic mechanical device that works inside your body. This device completely replaces your heart while you're waiting for a donor heart to become available.

In the past, patients needed to stay in the hospital while connected to the device. However, new innovations have enabled patients to return home while they're connected to the TAH-t.

Contact Us

Do you have heart failure and want to learn more about mechanical assist devices and total artificial hearts at VCU Health Pauley Heart Center?

Call us or request an appointment online.