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‘World first’ mini-VAD patient returns home following transplant


Harry Chivers - the first person in the world to be fitted with a golf ball sized ventricular assisted device two years ago in Newcastle - has returned home to Northern Ireland after having a heart transplant.

Harry, a 65 year old father of three from Bangor, had a major heart attack in August 2014 and never fully recovered. His doctors in Ireland were so worried about his condition that they referred him to the Freeman Hospital – one of Europe’s leading heart and lung centres.

In July 2015, Harry became the first patient to have the miniaturised circulatory pump implanted, under the expert care of cardiothoracic surgeon Professor Stephan Schueler.

The mini-VAD acted as an artificial circulatory system supporting his heart, and was made available to the flagship centre as part of a major, international trial.

“Harry was the first patient in the world to receive the innovative implant and he has had a very good outcome,” said Professor Schueler.  “It was a great success and we were delighted to see him go home, looking so well after his transplant, earlier this year.”

Professor Schueler, who has particular expertise in heart failure surgery, especially mechanical assist devices, added: “The implant kept Harry alive for nearly three years without any serious issues, and the fact that he was able to go home just a month after his transplant shows how well it looked after him.

“We will continue to innovate in this growing field of medicine as more and more patients with advanced heart failure need specialist support, and look forward to working with the next generation of devices as they come online.”

Father of three, Harry says: “The people here are world-class. I’ve been given my life back and I think that’s just amazing.”

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