AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – University Hospital is celebrating the fourth anniversary of its Left Ventricular Assist Device Program, or L-VAD. It’s a device that helps heart failure patients live longer.
“There’s only 2 to 3 thousand heart transplants happening in the country so you’ve got 500,000 people needing some form of treatment and only 2,000 people getting some form of treatment.”
Dr. Darshak Karia was recruited to University hospital to start the LVAD Program. He says that before the start of the program, advanced heart failure patients in the CSRA had no local options for treatment.
“Our patients, normally we would try to send them over to centers such as Atlanta, or Charleston, or Charlotte, but no everybody would have the means to get there,” says Dr. Karia.
Daralee Corson was the first patient to receive the LVAD at University Hospital. She was diagnosed with a heart condition caused by a virus at 49 years- old and a defibrillator was put in. Eventually, her heart began to fail.
“And then January 2017 it went off over 60 times in one day. And they brought me to the emergency room and they didn’t think I was going to make it, to be honest,” says Corson.
The device is implanted during open heart surgery. It takes stress off the organ, and literally giving patients new life.
“In a nutshell, he told me it was a small mechanical pump that would be inserted and then attached to my heart, into my aorta,” says Corson. “And it would be powered by external batteries and it would pump my blood for my heart.”
Dr. Karia gives credit to his entire team for the success of the LVAD program at University Hospital. Corson says they aren’t just doctors and nurses to her. They are family.
“So they are the ones I put a lot of importance on because they took such good care of me,” says Corson. “The hospital has been nothing but wonderful.”