Ventricular Assist Devices for Children

We provide several options in mechanical assist devices that can help improve heart function in children with heart failure.

For children with heart failure, the team in the Heart Institute at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, provides expertise in using ventricular assist devices (VAD) to support heart function and improve children’s quality of life.

Heart failure in children occurs when the heart is weakened and is not able to pump adequate blood throughout the body. It may be caused by congenital heart defects or other issues such as viral illness leading to an enlarged heart or irregular heartbeat. A ventricular assist device is a mechanical pump that can help to improve circulation in a poorly functioning heart. A heart surgeon places the pump in a patient’s heart.

For children who need a heart transplant, a VAD can be used to support the heart until they are able to undergo heart transplant surgery. Our board-certified pediatric heart surgeons and heart transplant team work closely to provide comprehensive care for patients before and after transplant.

A VAD may be used to support the heart while a patient is recovering from surgery, allowing the heart to rest while the child heals. Some devices may also be used to support the heart long-term.

Some patients with a VAD will need to remain in the hospital while they have the device. They receive care in our 22-bed cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU), by a team that includes cardiologists, heart surgeons, cardiac critical care physicians, respiratory therapists, and other pediatric experts.

Other patients may be able to be at home while they have a VAD, depending on the device used, the child’s condition and his or her health. Your child’s care team will discuss with you the options that best meet your child’s needs.

Types of Ventricular Assist Devices

The type of VAD a child may need depends on things like the child’s condition and weight. Types of devices we use include:

  • Berlin Heart
  • HeartMate 3
  • CentriMag/Pedimag
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)

We are the first center in Florida approved for use of the HeartMate 3 in pediatric patients.

Johns Hopkins All Children’s is also designated as a Center of Excellence in Mechanical Circulatory Support by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) for use of ECMO, a form of heart-lung bypass that supports oxygen delivery to the tissues, while allowing the heart and lungs to rest.

Contact Us

For more information or to make an appointment, give us a call at the phone number below. We serve families in the greater Tampa Bay area and beyond.

Read inspiring stories about our patients

Heart Transplant: Wilfre's Story

14-year-old Wilfre arrived at the Emergency Center at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. His heart was failing him and time was of the essence.

Read more.

A few days after surgery, Wilfre was passing a soccer ball in the hallway with his care team at Johns Hopkins All Children's.