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Child heart device keeps 90 percent children alive | Updated: 2012-08-09 14:13

The heart pump for children, which provides life-saving bridge to transplantation, is very useful as it can keep 90 percent of children alive while they wait for a donor organ, a Houston-based study said Wednesday.

The study, which is led by the Texas Children's Hospital, found that without the device, known as the Berlin Heart, babies with hearts failure have little hope of surviving long, according to reports on the website of local English daily The Houston Chronicle.

Dr. Charles Fraser, surgeon-in-chief at Texas Children's Hospital and the study's principal investigator, said that "doctors now should have confidence they can offer children the same kind of heart support adults have been getting."

About 200 to 300 children a year could benefit from the device, which was approved by the US Food and Drug administration last December, said Fraser, also a professor of surgery and pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine.

The study showed that 92 percent of the children with the average age of 9 were successfully transplanted or weaned off the Berlin Heart at 192 days. But 33 percent of the same size children on a heart-lung machine had died at 30 days.

For those children with the average age of 1, 88 percent were successfully transplanted or weaned off the Berlin Heart at 174 days. But 25 percent of the comparison group had died at 21 days.

Made in Germany and available in sizes to fit children from newborns to teenagers, the pump connects to the heart through a pair of tubes and is run by a laptop computer to help the heart's ventricles pump blood to the lungs and the rest of the body.

The Berlin Heart, which was approved in Europe since 1992, costs more than 100,000 US dollars, including procedures and hospitalization.

Currently, the Berlin Heart has been implanted in about 1,000 children across the world, and the Texas Children's first implanted the device in 2005.

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