Leanny Rodriguez is an active 4-year-old. But as a baby, heart failure had her fighting for her life.
"She was getting worse and worse very soon. They say she won't make it to wait for a heart transplant because she's getting sicker," mom Suany Rodriguez said.
The wait for a new heart could be months. So doctors at Texas Children's Hospital gave Leanny a device called the Berlin Heart. It pumped blood through her body, keeping her alive until a heart became available. Now, a new
study shows the device provides a life-saving option for babies and small children with serious heart failure.
"In those patients that were enrolled in the study, more than 90 percent of them survived to receive a heart transplant or recover," said Dr. Charles Fraser, the surgeon in chief at Texas Children's Hospital.
Several thousand children develop serious heart failure every year in the U.S. Right now, there aren't many options out there for those waiting for a transplant.
Researchers say some patients recovered enough that their heart pumped blood on its own after they stopped using the device.
Researchers caution that some children can suffer serious side effects including major bleeding, infection and stroke. Leanny didn't have any problems. She used the Berlin heart for five months before she finally got a new heart three years ago, and she's doing great.
"She loves outdoors a lot and she does mostly everything any other kid can do," Suany Rodriguez said.
Suany Rodriguez is grateful the Berlin heart gave her daughter a chance to live.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the Berlin heart for children late last year.
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