MUSC The Catalyst
MUSC arial view


MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Catalyst Advertisers Seminars and Events Research Studies Public Relations Research Grants Catalyst PDF File MUSC home page Community Happenings Campus News Applause

MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Catalyst Advertisers Seminars and Events Research Studies Public Relations Research Grants MUSC home page Community Happenings Campus News Applause


MUSC a destination therapy site for heart patients

By Dawn Brazell
Public Relations
A group of nurses crowd around Janette Rice in the Ashley River Tower auditorium as she eats a big slice of cake.
Everyone’s grinning.
“I’m just thankful for what everyone did for me,” said Rice, the belt around her waist the only visible sign of her Aug. 25th surgery to implant a HeartMate II. The belt houses the controller and battery for her mechanical, circulatory pump that’s giving her a second chance at life.

Janette Rice, left, enjoys a reunion with Mary Katherine Melroy, an occupational therapist, at a reception celebrating MUSC's Joint Commission certification.
“We discussed it and decided I didn’t have a choice. They said that it could add another 10 years to my life. Who’s going to say, ‘no,’ unless you don’t like living,” said Rice, smiling at her friend who took her to Walmart earlier for a little retail therapy. It’s the first time since her surgery to address her congestive heart failure that she’s really felt up to getting out.
Before the implant, she was falling asleep at work and would walk a few feet and have to stop to rest. Now she’s doing treadmill and elliptical workouts as part of her rehabilitation as she awaits a heart transplant.
“I know God is the reason that I have the ability to receive this in my lifetime at this time. The timing might have been off, but it wasn’t. I was able to get this and be here laughing and talking with my friends,” she said.
Timing is everything.
MUSC was selected to offer the revolutionary mechanical circulatory support therapy as a bridge-to-transplant treatment option following FDA approval of HeartMate II in 2008. The cake enjoyed Sept. 30 was in celebration of MUSC receiving distinction from the Joint Commission as a VAD (ventricular assist device) Center of Excellence. The HeartMate II recently received FDA approval for use as final or destination therapy for patients with end-stage heart failure who will not, for various reasons, be receiving a heart transplant.
Drs. Jennifer Peura and Michael Toole are glad to see MUSC become a destination therapy center for patients with advanced heart failure.

Jennifer Peura, M.D., in MUSC’s Division of Cardiology and medical director of the VAD Program said she’s thrilled that more patients will have access to this treatment, and that MUSC is on the list of a few select centers across the nation approved to perform this destination therapy. There are 80 centers across the nation that are Joint Commission accredited for destination therapy. MUSC is the only center in South Carolina and among eight centers in the Southeast.
The Joint Commission visited MUSC Sept. 22 and evaluated the Ventricular Assist Device Program.  The survey team visited multiple sites at the Ashley River Tower including the ambulatory clinic, 4 east, cardiothoracic ICU, operating rooms and the chest pain center.  Staff members were interviewed, HeartMate II patient charts were reviewed and MUSC VAD Program performance data was evaluated.
Surgically implanted, HeartMate II is a mechanical pump that has a power cord or drive line that exits through the abdominal wall and is connected to a computer called a controller. Patients must be connected to power in order to run the pump.  Typically the device uses batteries during the day, and then can be plugged in to recharge at night.
Matthew Toole, M.D., MUSC Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and surgical director of the VAD Program, performed the first HeartMate II implant at MUSC in April 2009. Since that time, 11 other patients have received the device.
Peura said HeartMate II can provide critical support for patients as they wait for a donor heart.  Because of its small size and portable external components, the device allows patients to be discharged from the hospital and live practically normal lives.  This compares to how it used to be with older devices that had large, external-power systems, requiring patients awaiting a heart transplant to remain in the ICU.
With MUSC’s recent designation as a destination therapy site, the hospital also will be helping more people experiencing advanced heart failure, but who are too ill and are ineligible for heart transplant, she said.
“We were told by the Joint Commission surveyor that the sincerity and enthusiasm exhibited by staff members throughout out program was remarkable,” Peura said. “I believe this was a key factor in our excellent evaluation and the foundation of our success as a VAD Program. I feel proud to work among such a skilled and dedicated team.”
Rice would agree. She finishes her cake among a group of support staff and nurses who have stopped by to congratulate her on how well she looks.  
“I made a lot of new friends here.”

HeartMate II
  • It is smaller than previously approved LVADs (left ventricle assist device) and can be used for a broad range of advanced-stage heart failure patients, including women.
  • The device can pump up to 10 liters of blood per minute, covering the full output of a healthy heart q It is implanted alongside a patient’s native heart and takes over the pumping ability of the weakened heart’s left ventricle.
  • The HeartMate II is used as a bridge-to-transplant treatment and as destination therapy for advanced heart failure patients who are ineligible for a heart transplant.

Friday, Oct. 8, 2010

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.