Kenny Moore’s progressing heart failure left him unable to walk a block without becoming fatigued. His health was also declining. His heart was not pumping efficiently, and fluids were building up in his body. His doctors gave him some choices. To improve his quality of life he could get on a heart transplant list or get a ventricular assist device (VAD). Or he could continue with his current quality of life on medications alone.
Kenny opted for a better quality of life. “I wanted to keep my own heart,” says Kenny, a 66-year-old from Petersburg, Kentucky, who became St. Elizabeth’s first-ever VAD implant recipient in October 2020.
Kenny’s heart health had been on the decline since 1997, when he started experiencing a series of heart problems. He had a heart bypass in 2000, several stents in the early 2000s, as well as significant surgical repair following a massive heart attack in 2008. In 2019, his longtime St. Elizabeth cardiologist, Dr. Kevin Miller, referred him to Dr. Haree Vongooru, a heart failure specialist and medical director of the St. Elizabeth Advanced Heart Failure Management Center.
Dr. Vongooru and Dr. Mario Castillo-Sang, a cardiac surgeon on St. Elizabeth’s heart failure team, determined that Kenny was a good candidate for the VAD procedure.
Now at home and recovering, Kenny is adjusting to his pump and slowly regaining strength.
“I’m doing a lot better now than I was,” says Kenny. He credits his care team at St. Elizabeth, including his three doctors and his nurse and VAD coordinator, Lindsey Carroll, RN, BSN, for helping him navigate his recovery.
“You couldn’t ask for better care,” Kenny says about his St. Elizabeth team. He also gives credit to his at-home care team — his wife, two daughters-in-law and a granddaughter — who provide around-the-clock attention as he heals.
Kenny admits that caring for his VAD and its assorted equipment has “taken some getting used to.” But he already sees improvements in his health.
Before the VAD, Kenny was not well enough to do exercise of any kind. Now he’s able to do rehab exercises three times a week under the watchful eye of St. Elizabeth Cardiac Rehab nurses.
“Working with Kenny’s doctors and nurses has been like being in a warm, loving family,” says his wife, Brenda. “The whole team has been wonderful.”
New Option for Heart Failure Patients
Installed via open-heart surgery, a VAD is an implantable mechanical pump that moves blood from the heart ventricles (the lower chambers of the heart) to the rest of the body.
A VAD implant can add years to the life of a patient with advanced heart failure. Or it can be installed as an intermediary step while a patient waits for a heart transplant.
Kenny’s successful VAD implant is a milestone accomplishment for St. Elizabeth’s Advanced Heart Failure Management Center — one of just three centers in Kentucky that perform the procedure.
“These patients are complex cases, and they require a lot of postoperative care,” says Dr. Castillo-Sang, Kenny’s VAD surgeon. “Their postoperative recovery takes a village. The medical team at St. Elizabeth — the surgical team, ICU cardiologists, nursing staff, and the respiratory, physical and occupational therapists — has years of experience caring for heart failure patients. Collectively, our Advanced Heart Failure Management Center team has cared for more than 400 cases. Finding that level of expertise is rare.”
Dr. Castillo-Sang hopes the new VAD program will enable the St. Elizabeth team to improve the lives of thousands of heart failure patients in the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati region.
“The fact that these patients now won’t have to go elsewhere to receive this care means a lot to us,” says Dr. Castillo-Sang.
For more information or to make an appointment at the St. Elizabeth Advanced Heart Failure Management Center, go to stelizabeth.com/heartfailure or call (859) 301-0124.