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Heart Specialists come here to train

Provided by: Sun Media
Apr. 13, 2007

A German doctor with Capital Health is among a team of local heart specialists who helped save the life of young Argentinian girl.

Last August Dr. Holger Buchholz, 35, visited Buenos Aires to help doctors fit five-year-old Dominique Lescano with a Berlin Heart – an external implant that pumps blood throughout the body while patients await heart transplants.

Yesterday at the Stollery Children’s Hospital, Buchholz hosted Argentine doctors Alberto Charroque and Guillermo Moreno as they shared video footage of Lescano’s recovery with the media.

The pair of South Americans have been working with local doctors since the Stollery became North America’s first and only training centre for Berlin Heart transplants last October, a month after Capital Health lured Buchholz away from Berlin.

Prior to the Stollery’s accreditation, specialists from around the world had to travel to Berlin to get trained on the device, and the Argentine doctors are the first international graduates of Edmonton’s program.

“If not for the training and guidance we received from doctors here in Edmonton, Dominique would have died,” Moreno said.

The girl had been on a transplant wait list for two years before she was fitted with the Berlin Heart, which is constantly attached to a large but portable pumping machine. Suffering from a genetic defect, Lescano’s heart was slowly failing. By the time she received the implant she could barely walk.

Since the implantation she has made a full recovery.

Moreno and Charroque return to Buenos Aires today, after taking a week-long advanced Berlin Heart training seminar at the Stollery, instructed by Buchholz – himself a former employee of the Berlin Heart company.

“Heart transplant wait lists are lengthy in Argentina,” Moreno said. “With what we have learned now, kids can be kept on this device for 400 days, and adults for many years.”

He called Edmonton a centre of excellence for cardiac treatment that will benefit specialists and patients from around the world.

Buchholz, who’s performed over 90 Berlin Heart implants, has been working with the device for the last decade and trained several Edmonton doctors in Berlin before being moving to Edmonton.
He’s travelled the globe lecturing on the Berlin Heart, including such places as Brazil, Montreal, Seattle, and Stanford University.

“Once I saw the facilities here I was sold,” he said. “Being able to train doctors at the newest and only training centre outside of Germany is an amazing opportunity to save the lives of even more people.”