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Definitions and FAQs


Driveline: The cord that exits the skin in the abdomen and powers the pump.

Controller: Small box worn outside the body that controls the pump.

Bridge to Transplant (BTT): Using a pump to support a patient until a heart transplant becomes available.

Destination Therapy (DT): Using a pump to support a patient who does not qualify for transplant.

Total Artificial Heart (TAH): Pump that replaces both sides of the heart.

Mechanical Heart: Blood pump that helps or replaces the human heart.

Short-term VAD: Pump that supports patients for days to weeks.

Long-term VAD: Pump intended to support patients for more than a few weeks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I talk to a VAD patient before implant?

The team can schedule a time for you to meet a VAD patient.

Can I still travel or go on an airplane?

Patients are able to travel and go on airplanes, once stable. The team will provide information on the closest VAD center (for care, if needed, on a trip) and a letter to get through security at the airport.

How long does the surgery take?

Implant surgery usually takes 4-6 hours, but may take longer.

How long will I be in the hospital after implant?

After VAD implant surgery, the average length of stay is two weeks, which may be longer if there are complications.

The stay in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit is approximately one week. Once stable, the patient transfers to the Cardiac Advanced Care Unit for another week. After learning how to care for the device, the patient is discharged from the hospital.

When will I be able to leave the hospital after implant?

Patients are discharged after implant when they have demonstrated that they/their caregiver have completed VAD education and are medically stable.

What if I have an urgent situation after discharge?

The team has an emergency line which is answered 24/7; a message line is available for non-emergencies.

Numbers are provided to patients and caregivers during the hospital stay after implant.

How often will I come to the hospital?

Outpatient clinic visits are required weekly at first but can extend to monthly (for Bridge to Transplant patients), or once every three months (for Destination Therapy patients). Clinic visits are usually on Mondays and Wednesdays.