El Negrín implants a pioneering artificial heart system in the Islands

The device improves the organ’s ability to pump blood


Actually, it is a device that improves the ability of the heart to pump blood. “It is a flow pump that sucks the blood from the left ventricle and drives it to the aorta artery,” explained Dr. Francisco Portela, head of the Cardiac Surgery Service. who was also present this Monday at the event, together with the director of the Canary Islands Health Service (SCS), Conrado Domínguez, the managing director of the aforementioned hospital in Gran Canaria, Pedro Rodríguez, and Concepción Hernández.

It should be noted that the pump is of the centrifugal type and is powered through an external cable that comes out of the skin and must be connected to batteries. “The great step that is expected, and that is getting closer and closer, is to prevent the cable from having to enter the body,” said Dr. Portela.

But who can benefit from this technique? Based on the words of Dr. García, those patients who may be candidates for a heart transplant, but who need immediate assistance and cannot wait for the organ. Also, those patients who suffer from other pathologies that do not allow them to undergo a short-term transplant. “This is what we call a bridge to transplantation,” he said. In other cases, ventricular assist may be an alternative to receiving a new heart because the practice is contraindicated. However, in all situations, a thorough and demanding medical evaluation is essential.

“We chose Concepción because she did not meet the criteria to undergo a heart transplant, as she has an underlying disease. The idea is that you have this machine for two or three years and then put it on the waiting list, “said the doctor.

And the fact is that the heart of this 56-year-old woman, a native of El Hierro and a resident of Tenerife, pumped two liters of blood per minute – the normal thing is to reach almost five liters -, which prevented her from carrying out many tasks. “I came here barely out of breath and couldn’t even speak anymore. Now, I have been born again thanks to the implant, “said the affected woman, who has not yet been able to return to the neighboring island. «I still have to go to check-ups and get cures, but I feel very well. My life has totally changed and now I have strength and desire to live, “he stressed.

According to the doctors, the operation lasted two hours and Concepción spent two months in the referral hospital in the northern area of ​​Gran Canaria. “You have to keep in mind that it was the first time we did this. Normally, after implantation, patients spend between five and seven days in intensive care and between seven and 15 days in the ward. It all depends on the evolution and training, since it is essential that they leave the hospital knowing how to operate the machine, interpret the alarms, change the batteries and know the dosage of the anticoagulants they must take, “said the head of the Insufficiency Unit Cardiac. It should be noted that when the patient returns to Tenerife “she will be treated in conjunction with colleagues from the Hospital Universitario Nuestra Señora de Candelaria.”

“I came here barely out of breath and I couldn’t even speak anymore,” says Concepción Hernández


Circulatory Assistance

Dr. Portela took the opportunity to remember that next month will mark two years since the first heart transplant in the Archipelago. «For us it is very important to have started the heart transplant program in the Canary Islands and to have obtained excellent results. To this has been added the Circulatory Assistance program, because today the Heart Transplant program, if it does not go hand in hand with a Mechanical Circulatory Assistance program, would be lame », the professional appreciated.

To date, 31 heart transplants have been performed at the Doctor Negrín University Hospital of Gran Canaria.


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