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Stollery becomes first North American training centre for the Berlin Heart

“I still shake my head thinking what a great honour this is,” says Dr. Terry Klassen, Regional Clinical Program Director at the Stollery Children’s Hospital. Dr. Klassen is referring to the recent announcement that the Stollery was chosen as the first of two planned training and reference centres for the Berlin Heart.

The Berlin Heart sits outside a patient’s body and is a life-saving bridge that can keep patients alive while awaiting a heart transplant or recovering from extreme heart failure.

In 2005, the Stollery became one of the first hospitals in North America to use the device. Since then, the Stollery has become a centre of expertise for the device—a fact recognized last July by the Capital Health’s agreement with Berlin Heart Incorporated, the device’s exclusive manufacturer.

“Berlin Heart Incorporated has connections internationally, and had many excellent pediatric cardiac centres to choose from,” says Dr. Klassen. “But they picked the Stollery. It’s a real vote of their confidence in the quality of our pediatric cardiac program. We can always say we’re the best—and I believe we are—but this is an external, unbiased validation that what we have here is truly outstanding and amazing. It shows the Stollery is world-class in a genuine way. We’re proud to support other centres in building more expertise and familiarity in the use of the Berlin Heart.”

What will that support involve? Essentially, whatever it takes, says Klassen. “The Stollery will provide training and advice to any hospital interested in the new technology—across North America and sometimes even beyond.

Staff from other centres will come here, and our team will travel as schedules permit. Since it’s a new procedure, we could be sharing our Berlin Heart expertise in many different areas. It’s an enormous responsibility to be designated as a North America training centre, and we plan to live up to it.