Local News

Three Patients At UNC Hospitals Testing New Heart Pumps

Posted March 2, 2006 7:28 a.m. EST

— Many patients have severe congestive heart failure. Their heart muscle is so weak that it cannot pump enough blood to the body. They need an implantable heart pump. Now as part of a clinical trial, three UNC patients have the newest and smallest version of heart pumps.

Ed Armogida has congestive heart failure. He could barely walk upstairs, but last November, as part of a clinical trial at UNC Hospitals, he and two other patients got a Jarvik 2000 FlowMaker.

The pump has a cable that, through a port in the skin, leads to a small controller. Plus, it has batteries that can run up to eight hours. If you compare the Jarvik to the old standard pumps implanted under the belly muscle, the old pumps are bulky and loud. The Jarvik is silent, except for the occasional warning alarm.

Two months out of surgery, Armogida has been exercising and getting stronger.

"I know it's made a great deal of difference in my life, in to where I was at and where I'm at right now," he said.

UNC heart surgeon Dr. Craig Selzman said Armogida's kidneys, liver and lungs are recovered from the stress of a weak heart. The pump is doing its job, but it is not a lifelong fix. He needs a heart transplant, and now he's in better shape to get one.

"He's the kind of patient that is going to give that heart the best chance of working for him," Selzman said.

That could happen for Armogida sometime this year, which gives him more time to prepare.

The WRAL Health Team will continue to follow Armogida's progress as he waits for a new heart.