The language of medicine is full of complicated words and acronyms. For parents of children with serious heart conditions like congenital heart disease or pulmonary hypertension, one such acronymn that may incite fear or worry is hearing that their child may need a device called a VAD (Ventricular Assist Device). However, these devices, combined with Seattle Children’s Heart Center’s medical expertise, save the lives of many children and teens each year.
What is a VAD?
A ventricular assist device (VAD) is a mechanical pump a surgeon implants inside or outside a child’s chest and connects to the heart during open-heart surgery. A VAD can be used for patients waiting for a heart transplant or for patients whose heart muscle needs to rest. Seattle Children’s has a variety of VAD options for patients large and small, from tiny babies to young adults, which aren’t available at every hospital. VAD options at Seattle Children’s include the Berlin Heart, CentriMag and PediMag centrifugal pumps, HeartMate II, Heartware HVAD and SynCardia Total Artificial Heart (TAH).
The newer, fully implantable VADs like the HeartMate II, Heartware HVAD or TAH can also greatly enhance the quality of life for many patients who are awaiting a heart transplant, often allowing them to leave the hospital. For one such patient from Hawaii named Julie Kobayashi, her implantable VAD even allowed her to leave the hospital while she waited for a heart and achieve her dream of playing in the snow for the first time.
To learn about each type of VAD, watch the video above as cardiac surgeons Dr. Jonathan Chen and Dr. Michael McMullan explain the many types that Seattle Children’s offers, and why it’s important to choose the device that best matches a child’s needs.
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Whether it’s a parent’s first or fourth child, pregnancy can be filled with equal parts excitement and anxiety. Expectant parents can opt for their doctors to perform a variety of prenatal tests to screen for genetic abnormalities or birth defects while the baby is still developing. If these screening tests come back positive, parents are referred to genetics counselors like me to learn more about their diagnostic testing options. A diagnostic test can be done to confirm if your baby does or does not have the condition. Depending on individual circumstances, some families pursue diagnostic testing during a pregnancy while others elect to pursue testing after the baby is born.
Once a diagnosis is made, families can meet with specialists to learn more about both short and long term care for their baby.
Seattle Children’s Prenatal Diagnosis and Treatment team sees families every day who recently received unexpected prenatal test results. These families come to us with questions and may feel anxious about next steps. We’re here to help give parents the information they need to prepare for the future. Read full post »
Dr. Stephen Seslar prepares for a complicated surgery using a new, realistic heart model created with 3-D printing.
Kami Sutton, 26, who you met last week, has been waiting for a heart transplant for five years. But surgeons at Seattle Children’s and University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC) are now preparing to perform a difficult surgery that could greatly improve her quality of life and may even eliminate her need for a transplant. It’s possible for the first time ever, thanks to a new, realistic heart model created with 3-D printing. Read full post »
In honor of Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Awareness Week, 26-year-old Kami Sutton wanted to share her journey that began at Seattle Children’s the day she was born.
26-year-old Kami Sutton
Seattle Children’s is my home. From the previously trademark blue bubble letters, the giraffes (which were recently replaced in the remodel), trains and Mickey Mouse – it is home. It is full of the people who I have trusted with my life since before I can even remember.
I was transferred to Seattle Children’s from a local hospital on Sept. 21, 1988, at only four hours old after being delivered via emergency C-section. I was blue and unable to breathe on my own. My parents were told I most likely would not survive the 30 minute trip down I-5 to the hospital. Read full post »
Julie Kobayashi, 12, traveled from Hawaii to Seattle Children’s for her heart transplant.
Children who need a heart transplant face a frightening waiting game before a donor heart becomes available. They must live with a failing heart for months, or even years, as clinicians strive to keep them healthy enough for transplant. Nationally, these patients face the highest waiting list mortality in solid-organ transplantation medicine, with 17% of children dying while waiting for a heart transplant.
Thankfully, Seattle Children’s has one of the best waitlist mortality rates among pediatric heart transplant centers, as reported to the United Network of Organ Sharing. The hospital also treats some of the region’s most complex, advanced heart disease and heart transplant cases and has one of the highest 3-year patient survival rates in the country.
“We are proud to be ranked among the best pediatric heart transplant centers in the country,” said Dr. Yuk Law, medical director of the Cardiac Transplant/Heart Failure Service at Seattle Children’s. “We have created a team of skilled experts who have dedicated their careers to treating heart failure and transplant cases.” Read full post »
Jennifer Bevaart’s son William was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease in September, 2014.
In honor of National Kawasaki Disease Awareness Day, we are sharing the story of William, a 10-year-old boy who lives with the disease, and why Seattle Children’s, an international leader in Kawasaki disease research, is the best place for children like William to receive treatment.
In September, Jennifer Bevaart’s son William developed a fever that lasted for days. He was lethargic, had a rash on his chest and his eyes were bloodshot. Over the next two weeks, Bevaart took William to at least four different specialists, each of whom suggested a different diagnosis: a sinus infection, walking pneumonia, bronchitis, even scarlet fever. Each treatment failed to ease William’s symptoms. He went from an active, tae kwon do enthusiast to a weak boy who was too weak to walk even the short distance to the mailbox without lying down to rest.
“Call it mother’s intuition, but I just knew something was very wrong with my son,” Bevaart said. “I felt like I was watching him die.” Read full post »
As we head into the New Year, we’d like to reflect on some of the incredible clinical advancements of 2014 that show how our doctors have gone the extra mile for our patients.
In the Children’s HealthLink Special video above, watch how futuristic medicine has saved the lives of the littlest patients at Seattle Children’s. From 3D-printed heart models to liquid ventilation, doctors and families reveal the amazing benefits of innovative treatments that challenge the status quo. Read full post »
In honor of the New Year, we’re taking a look back at some of our most popular and memorable blog posts from 2014. Below is a list of our top 10 posts. Here’s to another great year of health news to come. Happy New Year!
Lung Liquid Similar to One Used in Movie “The Abyss” Saves Infant’s Life, Doctors Encourage FDA Approval of Clinical Trials
Two doctors at Seattle Children’s went the extra mile to save Tatiana, one of the sickest babies they’ve ever seen. They got FDA approval to use a long-forgotten drug and are now inspired to help make this drug available to save more lives.
Visit with Macklemore Helps 6-Year-Old Heart Patient Recover
AJ Hwangbo was a happy-go-lucky 6-year-old without a worry in the world until mid-November when he developed a life-threatening heart condition. While specialists at Seattle Children’s Hospital helped AJ heal physically, the young boy struggled to bounce back emotionally. But, AJ’s joyful spirit returned after hospital staff arranged for him to meet his hero – local artist Macklemore. Read full post »
Dr. Katie Williams, a pediatrician and urgent care specialist at Seattle Children’s Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center, lived every parent’s worst nightmare when her 1-month-old son turned gravely ill one Saturday evening in January. Here, Williams shares how her infant escaped the grip of death — and how she gained a new level of gratitude — thanks to her colleagues’ expertise in pediatric life support.
Dr. Katie Williams with her son, Grayson
The Saturday that is forever burned in my memory started out typically. My husband David DeTerra and I took our three kids — 4-year-old Evan and 1-month-old twins Elisabeth and Grayson — to an afternoon birthday party for a friend. On the way home, we stopped for takeout and looked forward to a relaxing evening at home. I remember sitting in the car thinking how glad I was that the twins had reached the 30-day mark, because that’s the point where infants are less likely to get serious infections.
What happened next came totally out of the blue.
Grayson started breathing funny and he had this strange rhythmic cry. I figured he was hungry and wanted out of his car seat to nurse. When we got home, David noticed he felt cool and clammy and his face looked pale. We both tried to feed him, but he wouldn’t eat. His eyes, normally so alert, couldn’t connect with us at all. When his tiny body went limp, we frantically called 9-1-1. Read full post »
The following is part 2 of our two-part series on ECPR, a combination of CPR and ECMO offered at Seattle Children’s Hospital to save the most fragile patients’ lives. Part 1 covered Hannah Mae Campbell’s incredible story where ECPR and a heart transplant saved her life and allowed her to be the thriving toddler she is today. Here, we discuss how Seattle Children’s has spearheaded a first-of-its-kind ECPR simulation program to improve the process that allows the hospital to save patients in a time of crisis.
In an ECPR simulation in Seattle Children’s neonatal intensive care unit, the surgeon works to get the mannequin on the ECMO pump.
ECPR takes place when a patient goes into cardiac arrest, does not respond to CPR and is then put on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), a machine that functions for the heart and lungs when the organs fail or need to rest. Hannah Mae Campbell’s experience demonstrates the importance of technology like ECMO and why it’s important to continually improve complex, life-saving processes like ECPR.
Since January of this year, Seattle Children’s has executed the largest-scale ECPR simulations in the nation, with medical staff coming together bimonthly to practice as though they were in a real ECPR situation. Even though Seattle Children’s ECPR outcomes are higher than the national average, the hospital initiated the simulations with the goal of standardizing each step of the process to further improve outcomes for patients. Read full post »