Ventricular Assist Devices Program

Jewish Hospital is recognized as a leader in heart transplantation and the implanting of ventricular assist devices (VADs). Recent studies show that more than 40 percent of patients awaiting a heart transplant are supported with the assistance of a VAD. A ventricular assist device is a blood pump that assists the heart in pumping blood through the body. VADs have been used in the treatment of end-stage heart failure for over two decades as a bridge to cardiac transplantation, and more recently as permanent support or destination therapy in non-transplant candidates. Surgery is required to implant the VAD, which can be placed inside or outside the body.

Jewish Heart Care performs three types of VAD implantations: bridge-to transplantation, destination therapy and rescue. Bridge-to-transplant occurs when a VAD is implanted to help a patient survive the wait until a donor heart is available. Destination therapy with a VAD is a permanent use of the device for patients that are not transplant eligible. The use of a VAD for rescue procedures allows for the rest of the body to be supported while time is provided to see if the heart will recover or heal itself, also called myocardial recovery, before a transplant is considered.

In November 2009, Jewish Hospital became the second hospital in the nation (and first in Kentucky) to successfully implant the HeartWare Ventricular Assist System as part of a national clinical trial. HeartWare’s HVAD pump is the only full-output pump designed to be implanted in the chest, avoiding the abdominal surgery generally required to implant competing devices.

To learn more about ventricular assist devices call: .


Heart Care at Jewish Hospital
Ventricular Assist Devices
Success Stories
Meet the Physicians
LVAD Recovery How you Can Help



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Success Stories


Phillip Groves, 23, was a young Marine preparing for a deployment to Iraq. During training, he began experiencing strange symptoms. Simple tasks, such as sitting up in bed in the morning, left him feeling winded. After medical evaluation, he was diagnosed with stage 4 heart failure. He was 20 years old. 

Groves was referred to the Advanced Heart Failure Program at Jewish Hospital.  He began treatment there in January 2009 and underwent open-heart surgery to have a LVAD implanted to help his heart function. 
Later that year, physicians discussed with Groves the possibility of improving his condition and removing his LVAD.  Groves was immediately on board. He was treated with the recovery protocol and in July 2011, his heart was strong enough to remove the LVAD.
“When they said I could have the LVAD out, it was pretty exciting,” said Groves.  “I’d had the LVAD for two years.  Once it was out, it was nice to take a normal shower again…and to be able to sleep any way that I wanted.”
“If there is someone out there with an LVAD who may be a candidate for this program, I would encourage them to listen to the doctors.  It’s definitely worth it if it’s an option,” he said.
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Meet the Physicians

Mark Slaughter, M.D.
Dr. Mark Slaughter is a Professor of Surgery and Chief of the Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at the University of Louisville. In addition he serves as the Director of the Heart Transplant and Mechanical Assist Device program at the University of Louisville and Jewish Hospital. He serves on the Board of Directors for the American Society of Artificial Internal Organs and the Board of Trustees for the International Society of Rotary Blood Pumps. Dr. Slaughter currently serves as a consultant to the FDA Medical Device Review Panel, National Science Foundation SBIR/STTR grant reviewer, and is also a reviewer for the following journals: Annals of Thoracic Surgery, Circulation, and Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation. Dr. Slaughter is a visiting professor at various universities and has been a guest speaker at numerous national and international conferences. He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles in medical journals, book author, and many book chapters. He has also previously served two terms for the Health and Human Services Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee and was awarded the 2010 ARGI Physician of the Year Award by Medical News, in addition to being named Science Ambassador for the Louisville Science Center in 2009. Dr. Slaughter is board certified for the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery.


Emma Birks, M.D., Ph.D., FRCP
Since 2011, Emma Birks, M.D., Ph.D., FRCP, director of the Jewish Hospital Heart Failure, Transplant and Mechanical Support Program, has been pioneering a new treatment protocol for advanced heart failure patients with cardiomyopathy. Using a specific protocol of medications in combination with the LVAD, the elements work together to strengthen the patients’ hearts. Once the heart function improves to normal levels, the LVAD is removed and medication therapy remains ongoing for patients, but they are able to function normally and return to work and other daily activities. Jewish Hospital is the second facility in the country to remove LVADs from patients using the protocol, which was pioneered in England by Birks and her mentor. 


Ramesh Singh, M.D.
Dr. Ramesh Singh is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at the University of Louisville and is Board Certified with the American Board of Surgery (ABS) and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery (ABTS).   Dr. Singh is the Associate Director of the Heart Transplant Program at Jewish Hospital/University of Louisville and Assistant Program Director for the Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery Residency Program at the University of Louisville.  Dr. Singh is a member of numerous national and international societies that focus on heart failure and transplantation. He was the recipient of the American College of Surgeons National Resident Award for Exemplary Teaching in 2008 and also the recipient of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Award in 2007 and 2008. Dr. Singh has published multiple articles in peer reviewed journals.  Dr. Singh is a graduate of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland where he completed his associate fellowship in surgery. He trained in General Surgery at the University of Virginia and completed his residency in Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in 2011. 
Kelly C. McCants, M.D.
Kelly C. McCants, M.D. Dr. Kelly C. McCants serves as Assistant Director of Advanced Heart Failure/ Cardiac Transplantation and Primary Transplant Physician, Jewish Hospital, and Assistant Professor of Medicine and Director of Cardiac Transplantation and Assistant Director of Advanced Heart Failure at the University of Louisville. Dr. McCants is a graduate of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN. He completed his Internal Medicine Residency in 2005 at the University of Louisville. After a faculty appointment as Clinical Instructor of Medicine based primarily at The Veterans Hospital in 2005, he joined the Division of Cardiology as a clinical fellow and later chief clinical fellow for the academic year of 2007.  Dr. McCants came to Louisville after completing a fellowship at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia.   


Andrew J. Lenneman, M.D.
Dr. Lenneman completed his post-graduate medical training at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.  He then completed his general cardiology fellowship from July, 2008 through June, 2011, followed by an advanced heart failure and heart transplant cardiology fellowship from July, 2010 to June, 2012. 


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LVAD Recovery - How you Can Help


The LVAD Recovery Program continues to research and monitor patients to help further this innovative new treatment protocol.  Health insurance providers do not cover some tests and procedures required for a patient to participate in the program.  

Your donation will help fund tests for patients and support research efforts to track and monitor patient outcomes.  Your gift will help the Jewish Hospital LVAD Recovery Program care for more individuals in our region and conduct research to improve the recovery protocol.

Make a secure on line donation through the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's Foundation and choose the  "LVAD Recovery Program" radio button.

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Last Updated: 9/6/2013