Mechanical Circulatory Support

Some patients with heart failure need additional medical support as they wait for a transplant. For others, transplant surgery is too risky, or not an option they wish to pursue.

Our program has been recognized for the mechanical circulatory support we offer such patients, featuring ventricular assist devices (VADs) and other systems. VADs can support severely weakened hearts as a bridge to transplant.

VADS also can provide alternative, destination therapy. This long-term treatment involves surgically implanting a VAD to support your heart.

Henry Ford: experts in ventricular assist devices (VADs)

If you need mechanical support, your heart transplant team will work with cardiovascular experts at the Henry Ford Heart and Vascular Institute. This combined group of specialists will develop a personalized treatment plan to support your heart until a transplant is possible.

Highlights of our ventricular assist device (VAD) program include:

  • Cutting-edge research: Our active participation in national heart transplant clinical trials and research means access to the most advanced devices and therapies available. Henry Ford has a history of participating in all major nationwide VAD trials, including:
    • Among the nation’s first to use the HeartMate and HeartMate II VADs as bridge to transplant options.
    • One of only two programs in Michigan participating in the HeartMate III VAD clinical trial.
    • Among the first to use HeartWare, the first FDA-approved VAD placed near the heart sac.
  • Commitment to excellence: Our VAD program has received The Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval since 2008. The Gold Seal recognizes our proven commitment to providing high-quality patient care and shows that we meet rigorous quality standards.
  • Shared heart care: Through our Shared Care program, our heart experts provide VAD training to regional doctors and hospitals so that you can receive follow-up care closer to home. This arrangement also ensures that you receive appropriate VAD care in an emergency. We also have several heart transplant clinics across Michigan, making it easier for you to receive care locally.
  • Cardiac rehabilitation: Henry Ford was one of the first medical centers in the country to provide cardiac rehabilitation for patients with VADs. This physical fitness program improves health and reduces your risk of future heart problems.

Henry Ford VAD Program

Visit our Heart and Vascular Institute to learn more about:

Bridge to transplant options at Henry Ford

Our doctors rely on a variety of temporary support devices to help stabilize you during your wait for a heart transplant. These options are called bridge to transplant and include:

  • Ventricular assist devices (VADs): These surgically implanted pumps help your heart circulate blood. With a VAD, you can leave the hospital and go about daily life while waiting for a donor heart.
  • Percutaneous ventricular assist devices (pVAD): The TandemHeart pVAD is an external, continuous flow pump that helps your heart. It provides short-term, in-hospital support for up to 14 days.
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO): This hospital-based machine does the work of your heart and lungs by pumping and oxygenating blood outside of your body.
  • Intra-aortic balloon pump: This balloon device continually inflates and deflates to help your heart pump blood. A hospital-based computer console controls the pumping action.

Heart destination therapy at Henry Ford

Heart transplants are not for everyone. Some people with end-stage heart failure cannot undergo transplant surgery due to health complications such as hard-to-control diabetes or excess weight. Some people decide that transplant surgery is not for them.

If you are one of these patients, your doctor may recommend destination therapy. This long-term treatment involves surgically implanting a ventricular assist device (VAD) to support your heart. These mechanical pumps help circulate blood throughout your body. VADs can last for several years. If needed, our surgeons can replace old devices with newer ones.

Take the next step

Speak with a Transplant Institute specialist.