In a first for West Virginia, WVU Heart and Vascular Institute team implants life-saving heart pump

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Posted on 1/3/2018MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A 62-year-old Maryland man with a failing heart has received a permanent heart pump in an operation performed for the first time in West Virginia. A team of specialists at the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute (HVI) on Dec. 11 installed the pump, known as a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) for Ken Ritchey of LaVale, Md.

Photo credit: AbbottAn LVAD is necessary for some patients when the heart becomes too weak to pump blood throughout the body, and other methods to treat heart failure would not be effective. The device is surgically implanted and attached to the heart to help it to function. The patient wears a power pack connected to the pump, but outside the body, that allows him to move about freely to enhance quality of life.

“The LVAD provides a lifesaving option for our heart failure patients who do not have many alternatives to treatment. We are so pleased to be able to provide this service to patients in West Virginia as part of our comprehensive Advanced Heart Failure Program,” Vinay Badhwar, M.D., executive chair of the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute and chief of cardiac surgery, said. “This now means no one will have to leave the state to obtain this heart failure therapy, and that patients, like Mr. Ritchey, in nearby states, can find help here as well.”

Ritchey suffered a major heart attack in 2002 and underwent an urgent triple bypass operation at the time. He required stents in 2014 and a special pacemaker in 2016, but his heart continued to weaken until it could not adequately support him. When Ritchey was referred to WVU HVI experts in the fall of 2017, his heart was working only at a quarter of normal function. 

Ken Ritchey, 62, of LaVale, Md. (center) stands with the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute team who installed a left …

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