Toddler Jayden Villano is on the list for a heart transplant, and while he waits, a Berlin Heart, a device just approved by the FDA, is keeping him alive.
“It was really our only option and it saved his life for sure,” said his mother Alexa Gutierrez.
The device was surgically implanted on Nov. 18 at the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.
“In South Florida, to our knowledge we are the first center to use it in a small child,” said nurse Christene Mashburn, who coordinates the new heart transplant program there.
Jayden suffered a cardiac arrest two days before he got the Berlin Heart.
“Jayden was extremely ill. He had come to us with end stage heart failure and dilated cardiomyopathy,” said Dr. Maryanne Chrisant, director of pediatric cardiac transplants.
This device is now doing the job of Jayden’s left ventricle.
“So it works by the mechanism of sucking the blood from the left ventricle and then pumping it into the body’s circulation in the aorta,” said Mashburn.
Alexa Gutierrez notices a big difference in her son. “He’s ready to go. Before he was sick, down. He was sick and down. He’s improving a lot getting ready for transplant.”
But there are risks with the device.
“He has foreign material implanted in him that’s circulating blood outside his body so he is at risk for infection. He is at risk for bleeding,” Chrisant said.
It is simply a bridge to transplant. Jayden needs a donor match, and no one knows how long that will take.