Child with VADWe are internationally recognized pioneers in the use of ventricular assist devices (VADs) to support heart function in infants and children. Our pediatric heart specialists successfully place more VADs in children than any other center in the region.

If your child may benefit from a VAD, there is no better place to seek treatment than at the St. Louis Children’s and Washington University Heart Center.

What Is a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD)?

This mechanical pump supports heart function and blood flow in children with heart disease, such as a congenital heart defect, that weakens the heart. A VAD pumps blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Depending on your child’s particular case, we can attach the VAD to different areas of the heart.  

VAD Treatment at The Heart Center: Why Choose Us?

The Heart Center was one of the first centers in the nation to introduce a VAD program. That means you have access to some of the foremost leaders in VAD research and treatment.

With the largest pediatric heart team in the St. Louis area, we are dedicated to high-quality care with a compassionate touch for children with weakened hearts. Some of the reasons parents choose The Heart Center for their children’s care include:

  • We achieve some of the highest success rates in the nation for VAD placement, providing excellent outcomes for our patients.
  • We continuously improve our VAD techniques so that your child can go home sooner.
  • Using VADs, we have successfully delayed or avoided the need for further open-heart surgery or heart transplants for more children than most heart centers in the country.
  • Our commitment to supporting your child and family includes 24/7 access to your doctors, hometown visits from our nurse coordinators and in-person training for emergency responders in your child’s community.

Who May Need a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD)?

If your child or infant has a structural heart defect caused by congenital heart disease, a VAD can help support heart function:

  • During or after heart surgery as your child’s heart recovers
  • As an interim treatment while we prepare your child for further treatment, such as a heart transplant
  • As a long-term solution that avoids the need for a heart transplant, depending on your child’s specific health needs

Ventricular Assist Devices: Our Approach

When we treat your child with a VAD, we begin a partnership with your family. We are committed to bringing our patients the highest level of care, so they can live an active, healthy life. You can expect:

  • A detailed in-person conversation with your child’s surgeon, or a teleconference if you live outside the St. Louis area, about living with a VAD over the long term
  • Mobile app updates during the surgery, with pictures and texts every 20 minutes
  • Some of the world’s foremost experts available 24/7 for any questions you have, even years from now
  • Close coordination with your referring pediatric cardiologist, possibly including an in-person meeting to demonstrate how the VAD works
  • A hometown visit from our expert nurse to provide VAD care training for:
    • Staff at your child’s school, including teachers, coaches, the principal and nurses
    • Your family doctor and referring cardiologist
    • Your community’s fire department and other emergency responders

Why Choose Us?

St. Louis Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked among the nation’s best pediatric hospitals by U.S. News & World Report, the most comprehensive source of quality-related information on U.S. pediatric hospitals. We follow one simple mission – to do what’s right for kids. That mission comes to life through medical discovery, innovative therapies and compassionate care.

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