Veteran saved by mechanical heart pump at The Christ Hospital takes Honor Flight and welcomed home by LVAD team

Thanks to this device, Larry was well enough to journey on the coveted Honor Flight

Two years ago, Larry Kern was diagnosed with Chronic Heart Failure, with an EF less than 10% (normal is 50% - 70%). Dr. Glassman, a cardiologist here at The Christ Hospital, treated him for a year with medications and his EF recovered to 25%. A little over a year ago, the meds stopped working and his EF started to decline again. He was then referred to our heart failure team. Despite all interventions, his last option was the Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) which was implanted one year ago.

Thanks to this device, Larry was well enough to journey on the coveted Honor Flight, which departed from CVG on April 17.

Larry was a Master Sergeant in the army and served for 24 years. During that time,

•He was in the 82nd airborne division

•Served as a Green Beret and First Ranger battalion out of Savannah, Georgia. 

•Deployed 5 combat tours.

•452 parachute jumps.

•Served 101st airborne out of Ft Campbell, Ky.  Served in the Gulf War. 

•Retired out of Ft Brag NC18th airborne aviation brigade attack

The Christ Hospital Heart & Vascular program is the first facility in the region to offer the newly FDA approved HeartWare HVAD System as a destination therapy for patients with advanced heart failure who are not candidates for heart transplant. The HVAD System, a left ventricular assist device or LVAD, aids the heart in pumping blood throughout the body. LVAD devices pull blood from the left ventricle and pump it into the aorta  which circulates blood to the body and head. Although the heart still "beats", the LVAD assists the heart in pumping blood to other vital organs.

Most LVADs rest at the bottom of the heart inside the chest with a driveline or power cable that exits from the upper abdomen and is attached to the system controller, which is strapped around the waist. This system controller can be powered either by two lithium batteries or by a power module that is plugged into an electrical outlet at home.

See an animation of how the VAD works.

The VAD Community at TCH is one of the strongest in the nation. VAD Patients meet monthly, and the clinic staff become second family for them. That is why several VAD team members were in attendance when the honor flight returned to surprise and greet Larry and celebrate this amazing journey he was able to experience thanks to this device, and their care!