Happy Sunday Friends: here is a brief report from my Visit at Abbott/Thoratec on Wednesday.
Before getting started, I truly hope some of my thank you notes (find here) would be echoed by most LVADers. Now, these are some important notes from the discussions I have had at their Burlington MA premises.
Thanks for all your feedback and suggestions. I have tried my best to cover all the queries but I may have omitted a few points. So, please do not hesitate to let me know. Happy to respond where possible. If not, I would reach out to our contacts at Abbott or we could discuss here on this forum and together find some answers/pointers.
The discussions revolved more around the latest news and updates on the final development phases of the HeartMate3 LVAD system, the next generation HeartMate LVADs and the road towards and all implanted system, with no external components.
A. HeartMate3 - Peripherals and accessories, i.e.: controller, batteries, charger, mobile power unit (mpu), bags, etc. Starting with the most exciting part – Abbott is the last stretch of completing the HM3 system. I have had the honoured of joining the development team on Wednesday (20 June 2018), who introduced me to the most recent version of the peripherals for the HM3 system.
At that time, building on my own experience and the feedback you (other LVAD users) have communicated to me, I shared some perspectives with the designers. Hopefully, these would make tangible contributions to the final design of the peripherals and to next generation of LVADs.
In a nutshell, I can confidently say that most of our current concerns have been answered in the design of the HM3 peripherals and its accessories.
Key point - it should be noted that the current peripherals/accessories we use with the HM3 system are those of the HM2 (whose batteries’ technology is 10 years old). Luckily, with the advances of the decade, there are a lot of possibilities which allow lesser components and more modularity.
Additionally, for the short-term, these accessories would not be available to current Hearmate3 LVAD users. At a later stage, they would make an adaptation for current HM3 users to switch to the new peripherals, (especially for those on Destination therapy).
B. Is the HM LVAD system getting any smaller (Size)?
– Yes. The next generation HeartMate LVAD system in the works would certainly be made smaller than our current ones.
C. What is the timeline on a ‘No driveline’ system?
My host of the day introduced me as a model patient and an engineer. So, some of the managers nicely reminded me of the power requirements of 1W per litre for an LVAD pump. This is not comparable to a cellular phone which requires very little wattage – lower built-in batteries and all. Additionally, thanks to advances in communications technologies at lower frequencies which the human body is transparent to, the prospects are manifold. Thus, solutions like charging at night through a belt-like accessory that a patient puts on or around his body.
Nevertheless, there is good progress being made towards this goal. The expected timeframe is actually less than 10 years. In fact, over the past 15 years, there has been a number of fairly decent attempts at this. So, a fully implanted system, with no external equipment is on the horizon. In a few years, future LVADers would be able to swim with their VAD. How cool would that be?!
D. More End-user engagement
I advocated for more patient engagement. But, Abbott/Thoratec being a B2B (Business to Business) enterprise has limited direct interactions with patients that use their devices. The medical devices they manufacture are provided to patients through partner hospitals, additionally, they are contained by the national regulatory environment.
Nonetheless, they know of patient-led initiatives like MyLVAD and manage programs such as ‘LVAD Ambassadors’ which I am already involved with. In addition, I was asked to stay in touch as some of them may love to help our mission to involve more people in our effort to form a patient group and more.
E. In Closing/Way forward Through our respective journeys of living with the LVAD and the feedback we provide to our care teams and the manufacturers of the HeartMate systems, there is continuous improvement happening at a remarkable rate.
I am excited about the pace of growth of this technology and feel privileged to witness the impact it would have on future patients who need it and how it’ll advance cardiovascular medicine in general.
I left Abbott (Burlington offices) very content and optimistic about the future - the team promised me to keep working hard and fast, as they understand that patients (like ourselves) are waiting.
To be continued…
Thank you.-Bouba (with the #heartofagiant)
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