June 20, 2009
From Germany with Love…The Berlin Heart
Although M has now stabilized and we think she will be able to go without any “bridging” devices, when there were doubts talk began of devices that will allow her to stay alive even with a non-functioning heart. It used to be that the only available “bridging” device for heart patients was the ECMO. Although this machine is effective, the length of time a baby can be on it is limited – usually a matter of weeks. Because infant-sized hearts are often not available that quickly, another “bridging” device – the Berlin Heart has begun to be used more frequently. This device allows children to be on the bridging device for longer periods of time AND allows them to live semi-normal lives, moving around, playing, doing all the normal kidstuff they usually would be doing, while waiting for a transplant. It is truly amazing what medicine technology can do today – and we are thankful for each new device to which we are introduced – as it means that M has a better chance of both surviving and thriving despite her big heart!
Right now, it is looking like M will not need to be placed on the Berlin Heart, as her heart is functioning well enough to not need external interventions. But, this recent story on a baby in Canada, not only can the Berlin Heart help in cases of bridging, but it can also be used to heal a heart! If you’re craving more information and an example of the heart being put into use in an infant, you can read this press release from 2007 on an infant in Florida…