DALLAS Oct. 27, 2009 UT Southwestern Medical Center patient Michael LeBlanc, 40, is the first in North Texas to receive the newest generation of a mechanical device designed to improve heart function. It will be his lifeline while he awaits a heart transplant.
Called a left-ventricular assist device (LVAD), its purpose is to help a patient's weakened heart pump blood throughout the body. For Mr. LeBlanc, it will help his ailing heart continue to pump until the Irving resident receives a new heart. UT Southwestern is the only medical facility in North Texas implanting the HeartWare Ventricular Assist System as part of a national clinical trial testing the effectiveness of the device.
The HeartWare Ventricular Assist System is a little smaller than a hockey puck and two and half times smaller than the earliest versions of LVADs.
Mr. LeBlanc, a Chicago native, moved to the Dallas area 11 years ago in search of new job opportunities. The normal trajectory of his daily life veered wildly when a simple episode of fainting resulted in a life-changing diagnosis: heart failure.
"I kept getting weaker and weaker," he said. "I was blacking out for no reason. I hadn't been sick and have never been a sickly person."
Occasionally, viruses can attack the heart and leave it severely damaged, but people may not know until months or years later. Mr. LeBlanc's doctors theorized he may have had such a virus that ultimately led to heart failure.
"My energy level was up and down. To keep me going, I qualified for a defibrillator, which basically shocked me if my heart rhythm started to get worse," Mr. LeBlanc said. "But as I got sicker, the defibrillator kept going off, and it was awful."
Even with the defibrillator, Mr. LeBlanc suffered a heart attack in April, followed by a stroke in July. Luckily, he was able to get to an emergency room before the stroke did too much damage. After several more weeks in and out of
|Contact: Katherine Morales|
UT Southwestern Medical Center