Ventricular Assist Device

Why Choose Emory for VAD

Emory University Hospital's Cardiac Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) destination therapy program has the "Gold Seal of Approval" from The Joint Commission. Emory's VAD program is one of only two certified programs of its kind in Georgia and one of approximately 80 centers in the United States.

The Emory University Hospital VAD Program provides services for patients with chronic heart failure in an effort to promote optimal health, improve the quality of life, and provide comprehensive outpatient services.

Led by cardiothoracic surgeon, David Vega, MD, the VAD team has many years experience in using a VAD as a form of destination therapy (in place of a donor transplant) for individuals who are not eligible for - or unwilling to undergo - a heart transplant.

In 2008, Emory celebrated the 20-year anniversary of its heart transplant program and its 500th adult heart transplant. Emory’s cardiothoracic surgeons perform an average of 25 adult heart transplants each year and have a one-year post-transplant survival rate of 83.4 percent.

What is A VAD?

A ventricular assist device (VAD) is a battery-operated mechanical pump (MCS) that helps a weakened heart pump blood throughout the body. It is most commonly used as a bridge to transplant for those whose medical therapy has failed and who are hospitalized with end-stage heart failure. More recently, the VAD is providing an alternative to transplant. VADs allow a near normal quality of life, with most patients returning home with their families.

Watch an informative video of VAD Therapy being discussed by Dr. Vega and Dr. Laskar.

What are the alternative treatment options to heart transplant?

Emory can provide an advanced treatment option for patients who are not candidates for heart transplant. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing there are currently more than 2,900 Americans, 43 in Georgia, who are currently awaiting a heart transplant. Regardless of the number of donor hearts available, many patients are not candidates for a heart transplant for a variety of reasons including cancer, personal and religious beliefs, blood clotting problems, and other debilitating health conditions. Ventricular assist devices may be a viable option for many patients allowing them to resume a much more normal lifestyle and improved quality of living.

LVADs, left ventricular assisted devices, have been in use for more than 25 years, primarily to support patients with heart failure who are awaiting heart transplantation. Despite the severe nature of their illnesses, the majority of these patients will survive to transplantation. LVAD therapy for end-stage heart failure in patients not eligible for heart transplant was tested in a recent clinical trial. The trial concluded that treatment with a continuous-flow left ventricular assist device in patients with advanced heart failure significantly improved the probability of survival free from stroke and device failure at 2 years as compared with a pulsatile device. Both devices significantly improved the quality of life and functional capacity.

How to schedule an appointment or refer a patient

To schedule an appointment or to refer a patient for heart failure or consultation for a VAD call 404-778-5273.

The Emory Heart & Vascular Heart Failure specialists will perform the initial evaluation and consult with the cardio-thoracic surgeons if you are deemed a candidate for VAD implantation or transplant.

To transfer patients from another hospital please call 404–778- 4930 for an urgent evaluation and transfer.

Emory's VAD Physician team

Emory Heart & Vascular Center is proud to boast a stellar physician team. The state's first implantation of a dual pump ventricular assist device (VAD) to serve as a bridge to heart transplantation was performed in 1999 by Emory Healthcare physician, Dr. J. David Vega. This event initiated Emory's ongoing national position at the forefront of the use of mechanical circulatory assist devices.

In 2006, Dr. Vega was the first physician in Georgia to implant a VAD as a form of destination therapy for individuals who are not eligible for or are unwilling to undergo a heart transplant. Since the program was incepted, the physicians at Emory Healthcare have implanted over 80 VADs.

Dr. Andrew L. Smith
Dr. Sonjoy R. Laskar

Cardio-thoracic surgeons
Dr. J. David Vega
Dr. Duc Nguyen

Benefits for Referring Physician

Emory University Hospital has vast experience with LVAD implants and is one of only two hospitals in Georgia to be VAD certified by The Joint Commission. We are one of approximately 80 centers in the US  to have the certification to be able to implant an LVAD as a permanent therapy.

Joint Commission certification shows patients who need LVADs as destination therapy that Emory is a leader in the field with the best clinical practices in the area.

Emory University Hospital’s VAD program has achieved this status because of the experience, multidisciplinary team, and compliance with performance standards which positively impacts clinical outcomes.

The technology provides a greater quality of life for patients who are not eligible for donor hearts or who may become a candidate for a donor heart in the future

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