HOUSTON — A local 4-year-old girl has made history.
Katlyen Hickman is the first child in the country, and second in the world, to be implanted with a new device that helps keeps her heart pumping.
The Jarvik 2015 Ventricular Assistant Device (VAD) is made specifically for small children 4 years old and younger who are suffering from heart failure.
“The only real therapy we have for a patient like her is to do a transplant but we have to be able to get her there safely,” said Dr. Jeff Dreyer, medical director of heart failure, cardiomyopathy and cardiac transplantation at Texas Children's.
The device pumps oxygenated blood out of the heart. The fact that it is implantable and has small as a double A battery is what makes it unique.
Dr. Iki Adachi at Texas Children’s Hospital has been working on the technology for a decade.
“The outcome is so dramatic. These patients are really, really sick before operation,” he said. “I was particularly happy, because the family was super happy, seeing their kids doing really well”
The device helped Katelyn make it to her heart transplant.
Now, Texas Children’s has implanted the device in three kids, including a baby.
A small handful of hospitals in the world are testing the device in what’s being called the PumpKIN (Pumps for Kids, Infants and Neonates) clinical trial.