The Catalyst

Teen receives state’s first mobile HeartWare device

By Ashley Barker
Public Relations

A teen from Pelion became South Carolina’s first recipient of a new FDA-approved device called HeartWare®.

Jake Paul fishes from the Mount Pleasant Pier. The 16-year-old from Pelion chose to have the HeartWare device implanted rather than going with the Berlin Heart so that he could continue to live a normal life outside of the hospital while he waits for a heart transplant. Photo provided.
Jake Paul fishes from the Mount Pleasant Pier. The 16-year-old from Pelion chose to have the HeartWare device implanted rather than going with the Berlin Heart so that he could continue to live a normal life outside of the hospital while he waits for a heart transplant. Photo provided.

Jake Paul, 16, was diagnosed in November 2012 with dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition when a weakened heart doesn’t pump blood to the rest of the body properly.

By April, he began experiencing shortness of breath, and he survived a surgery to implant a defibrillator to avoid sudden cardiac arrest.

The self-proclaimed outdoorsman, who lost more than 20 pounds in the hospital and was admitted to MUSC four times, also had kidney and liver failure, which resulted in an emergency surgery to implant a CentriMag temporary left ventricular assist device. Three days later, he was finally fit enough to have the HeartWare device put into his chest by a team led by cardiothoracic surgeon Minoo Kavarana, M.D.

While waiting for a heart transplant, the HeartWare System will keep the blood pumping throughout Jake’s body.

Minoo Kavarana
Kavarana

A pump was put into Jake’s chest to push blood from the left side of the heart to the aorta, which carries the blood to other parts of his body.

A line connected to the device passes through the skin in Jake’s abdomen and is powered by two batteries. Jake carries the batteries and a small computer, only weighing a little more than two pounds, in a case around his waist.

He’s able to leave the hospital, although he doesn’t stray too far in case of an emergency, and is allowed to do some of his favorite activities, like fishing.

Larenda Paul, Jake’s mother, said that when her son was first admitted to the children’s hospital, she rarely could afford to pay for a hotel room. She ended up sleeping many nights in her truck and tried to nap as often as possible in the ICU where Jake stayed.

She did that for two weeks until the Ronald McDonald House, just a block away on the corner of Calhoun and Gadsden streets, accepted her application and had an open room. Jake joined her at the RMH just a few weeks ago and the pair still makes regular visits to see Kavarana and Andrew J. Savage, M.D., a heart failure cardiologist in the Department of Pediatrics.

Jake Paul eats lunch with his friend Turrell Thompson, 17, in the dining area of the Ronald McDonald House. Jake and his mother, Larenda, have been staying at the RMH while he waits for a heart and gets treatment at MUSC.
Jake Paul eats lunch with his friend Turrell Thompson, 17, in the dining area of the Ronald McDonald House. Jake and his mother, Larenda, have been staying at the RMH while he waits for a heart and receives treatment at MUSC.

“Thank God for MUSC and for the Ronald McDonald House,” she said. “MUSC is remarkable. I’m amazed that all of the doctors and nurses talk to each other and know what’s going on.”

Kavarana said MUSC took a leap of faith by purchasing the HeartWare System, which is much more expensive than the Berlin Heart, an older device that helps the heart pump blood.

HeartWare’s advantage over the Berlin Heart is its mobility. Berlin Heart patients are required to stay in the hospital under constant supervision while HeartWare patients are able to live relatively normal lives outside of the hospital.

“The HeartWare device is a win-win on many different fronts,” Kavarana said. “It’s an expensive device but it’s a huge cost saving to the hospital by not having the patient in the ICU for six months. Jake is now a functional young man while he waits for his new heart.”

Being the first hospital in the state to utilize the HeartWare device speaks to the commitment MUSC has to its community, according to Kavarana.

“It opens doors to other patients who need it,” he said. “I’d like to see it used more often in the future.”

Larenda Paul is focusing now on making sure Jake gains more weight and stays healthy.

“Jake spent 53 days in the hospital. He couldn’t eat solid foods for two months, but he’s getting back to normal and healthier now,” she said. “Only God knows when a heart with the right blood type will come in, but we want to be ready for it.”

August 7, 2013
 
 
 

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