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VAD Program

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, PLEASE CALL (780) 407-8822 AND ASK FOR THE PEDIATRIC VAD PHYSICIAN ON-CALL.

VAD Team           What is a VAD?          VAD Devices

The Pediatric Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) Program is one of the largest such pediatric programs in North America, and is at the forefront of mechanical circulatory assist device treatment. In 2005, our program was the first in Western Canada to implant a Berlin Heart Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD); and in 2011, we were the first in Canada to implant a HeartWare LVAD in a pediatric patient and discharge this patient home.

Our VAD Team:

The Stollery Children’s Hospital VAD team consists of multidisciplinary team members that work together to provide advanced care aimed at accomplishing the best possible outcome and highest quality of life for our child patients with heart failure. The team consists of:

VAD Physician:

Dr. Holger Buchholz
Director, Pediatric Artificial Heart Program
Clinical Assistant Professor Division of Cardiac Surgery
Adult Artificial Heart Program
Pediatric Heart Failure Program

VAD Program Coordinator:

Osiris Zelaya
VAD Coordinator / RN

VAD Program Coordinator is a Nurse Specialist who is primarily responsibly for coordinating clinical aspects of care from the evaluation phase to post-procedure out-patient follow-up. The VAD Coordinator functions to liaison with the patients, clinical staff, and physicians to facilitate a patient specific treatment plan and provide on-going health assessment, patient education, evaluation of treatment plan and follow-up care.

VAD Administrative Assistant:

Lanna Mess-Henlisia
Administrative Assistant

The Administrative Assistant works collaboratively with the VAD Team, AHS staff and physicians to ensure the delivery of high quality patient care. The Administrative Assistant provides a high standard of interpersonal communication while facilitating the needs of other team members.

What is a Ventricular Assist Device?

A Ventricular Assist Device, or VAD, is a mechanical circulatory device that is used in patients with advanced heart failure to partially or completely replace the functioning of the failing heart, and thereby, improving the blood flow to the rest of the body. There are various types of VAD pumps of which some may be implanted in your body or connected to the outside of your body. Furthermore, some VADs are intended for short term use, while others are intended for long term use.

A left ventricular assist device (LVAD), the most commonly used VAD, supports the pumping action of the left ventricle; a right ventricular assist device (RVAD) supports the function of the right ventricle; and a biventricular assist device (BiVAD) supports the function of both the right and left ventricle. There are various types of indication for VAD therapy which is based on the type of heart failure, other illnesses that may be affecting the patient, and the ultimate goal of treatment.

The three general categories of VAD therapy include:

  • Bridge to Decision (BTD) in which a VAD is implanted to support an acutely failing heart, and thereby, immediately stabilizing the patient and allowing time for the health care team to gather all the necessary information to provide the patient and family with the optimal long-term treatment option.
  • In the second category, Bridge to Transplant (BTT), a VAD is implanted in patients who are awaiting a cardiac transplant but becoming more ill as a result of progressive heart failure. BTT VADs optimize the patient’s condition and quality of life during the time they wait for the most suitable donor heart.
  • The final category, Destination Therapy (DT), a VAD is implanted with the treatment goal of long-term cardiac support in individuals who do not qualify for a cardiac transplantation.

VAD Devices Utilized by our Program

During the process of pre-operative evaluation, and in consultation with the cardiac surgeon, the VAD team will select the most appropriate ventricular assist device that is best suited for the patient in order to facilitate the best possible outcome. The devices utilized by our program include:

Levitronix CentiMag is a Bridge to Decision device that is implanted outside of the body to provide short-term cardiac support. During the treatment with this VAD the individual with will remain in the hospital until the failing heart has recovered and this device is removed, or after cardiac transplantation, or the patient has been transitioned to a longer term VAD. For further information, please click on the following link: www.thoratec.com.

Berlin Heart is a Bridge to Transplant device that is implanted outside of the body to provide cardiac support while the individual waits for a cardiac transplantation. For further information, please click on the following link: www.berlinheart.de.


HeartWare is a VAD pump that is implanted inside of the body in order to provide long-term cardiac support to individuals who await cardiac transplantation (Bridge to Transplant) or individuals for whom cardiac transplantation is not suitable (Destination Therapy). For further information, please clink on the following link: www.heartware.com.

HeartMate II LVAD is a VAD pump that is also implanted inside of the body and attached to the left side of the heart with the treatment goal of providing long-term cardiac support to individuals who await cardiac transplantation (Bridge to Transplant), or individuals for whom cardiac transplantation is not suitable (Destination Therapy). For further information, please clink on the following link: www.thoratec.com.

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