Pediatric heart pump shows promise to support children’s hearts at home

Woman holds a baby while getting the baby's heart checked by doctor

A small, implantable heart pump that could help children await heart transplants at home instead of in the hospital has performed well in an NHLBI-funded pilot study. 

Currently there exists no FDA-approved device for smaller children which allows hospital discharge, leading these children to remain hospitalized for months while awaiting a new heart – a major burden for families and hospitals. With the AA battery-sized pump surgically implanted, children awaiting a heart transplant could take part in many normal activities. If successful in further testing, it would replace the current standard of care – a suitcase-sized device that can weigh up to 200 pounds.

The NHLBI-funded Pumps for Kids, Infants, and Neonates (PumpKIN) trial conducted a feasibility trial of seven children, ages eight months to seven years old, who received the new pump. Five children went on to receive heart transplants, one recovered without the need for heart transplant, and one required a different support device. Based on these results, NHLBI has funded an expanded trial involving 22 patients at 14 medical centers in the U.S. and two in Europe. 

The study published in the Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation.