July 17, 2018 – NICVD on track to become centre of excellence in LVAD implants, heart transplants

Within the next few years, the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) would not only become an international centre for Left-Ventricle Assist Device (LVAD) implants and heart transplants, but it would also be known as a centre where surgeons, anesthetics, technicians and nurses would be arriving from the entire world for training in the field of cardiac and thoracic surgeries, said an expert.

“[The] NICVD has acquired the services of best cardiac surgeons, technicians, nurses and coordinators from across the world and they are working like an excellent team to achieve their targets. I’m quite hopeful that within a few years of training, this place would become a centre of excellence in LVAD implants, heart transplants, anesthesia, trauma management, minimally-invasive heart surgeries and pediatric surgeries in this whole region,” said Abigail Boultinghouse Vowels, a US healthcare specialist who is currently in Karachi, while talking to The News.

“Karachi is a city of 22 million people where hundreds of people face heart failure, but there was no facility in the entire Pakistan to save their lives by implanting LVADs. Now NICVD has launched this program and you would see that within years, this centre would become the centre of excellence in LVAD implants and heart transplants,” she observed, adding that she had seen the best cardiac-care nurses, paramedics and technicians working at the NICVD.

Two patients have so far received Left-Ventricle Assist Devices (LVADs) within a week after the hospital hired the services of an eminent US-based Pakistani surgeon, Dr Pervaiz Chaudhry, who uses the minimally invasive surgery technique to implant the device in the hearts of patients.

The LVAD is a mechanical pump that is implanted in the hearts of patients who face heart failure and, as a result of that, the left ventricle of their heart losses its ability to pump blood in the body.

In addition to performing implants, Dr Chaudhry is also training local surgeons on LVAD implant surgery, bypass procedures, replacement of heart valves and several other surgeries through minimally-invasive technique. He is also keen to train nurses and paramedics at the NICVD.

Abigail, who is working as training coordinator of the LVAD program at the NICVD and is a specialised nurse to assist surgeons in selecting the right patient for an LVAD implant, was requested to come to Pakistan to assist in the recovery of patients following the implants. She is also training both the local nursing and paramedical staff as well as patients and their families on how to live with the LVAD, which in some cases remain fixed to the chests of patients throughout their lives.

Abigail Vowels said that as a trained nurse and LVAD coordinator, she had been working with Dr Chaudhry for the last several years, and when he decided to move to Karachi for launching the LVAD program at the NICVD, he requested her to come along and train nurses and technicians, a request she accepted.

“After the LVAD implant, we don’t abandon the patients as they become our family members and that is what I’m trying to tell nursing staff and coordinators of the program here at the NICVD,” Abigail said, adding that LVAD recipients were like their “babies” who were in the constant care of their caregivers at the implant centre.

To a query, she said she would assist Dr Chaudhry in two more implant procedures and would leave Karachi after a week. She added that she loved staying and working in Karachi and would definitely like to visit Pakistan again.

“I loved the hospitality and I would be looking for any opportunity to visit this country again and again. I have enjoyed working with the people, its food, beaches, camels on the streets, local sweets and I would also love to visit Kashmir during my next visit.”

Source: The News International (July 17, 2018)