World's Smallest Heart Pump Saves Lives
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- At 1/100th the size of a human heart, it's the world's tiniest heart pump.
While the Impella Pump 2.5 may be small, it's making a big difference for patients.
Some like former Marine, father, and self-described "foodie" Scott Schuppie who - without it - might not have recovered from a nearly fatal heart attack.
On Veteran's Day 2013, Scott was at a ceremony at Kanapaha Memorial Park when something didn't feel right. He chalked it up to a food allergy and decided to walk home.
"I called (my wife) Elizabeth and said, 'Hey, you know, this is getting really bad. I can't get to the house, go get the car and come back to get me,' and I sat down at a bus stop bench," Schuppie explains, "And that's the last thing I can remember."
He "woke up" 21 days later at North Florida Regional Medical Center. Dr. James O'Meara, an Interventional Cardiologist, was part of the team who treated Schuppie.
"As it turned out, he was just a few minutes away from having a serious problem," O'Meara says, "it didn't take but five minutes before his heart stopped beating."
Schuppie was rushed to the cath lab at North Florida Regional where it was determined he was having a massive heart attack.
For an hour staff performed 19 defibrillations and CPR as they tried to place stents and open his arteries.
"Nobody expected him to come out of that and the doctors just would not give up," Scott's wife Elizabeth Schuppie says.
It's hard to believe something smaller than the width of a pencil that helped save his life.
"It's put into the heart and it actually helps pump blood when the heart is not functioning, the device allowed it to actually pump blood through Scott's body when his heart otherwise was not pumping," O'Meara says.
The Impella 2.5 heart pump is inserted through a catheter into the leg and into the heart's left ventricle - the main pumping chamber.
Schuppie survived, but his recovery was far from over. After a full month in the hospital, the road ahead includes dialysis and months of physical therapy.
"I was on oxygen I had a walker, a wheelchair actually, I would sit on the couch and I could not get out of that couch by myself," Schuppie says.
Now Schuppie is 50 pounds lighter, living a healthier lifestyle, and making choices to protect his heart. He still goes to physical therapy three times a week and will likely continue to do so for the next year.
An Impella pump for children is currently in development.
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