She thought she had the flu. But Qiaorong “Joey” Wang nearly died.
The 36-year old was experiencing flu-like symptoms but when she was checked out by cardiologist Arthur Chin, M.D. at Chinese Hospital, he discovered Wang had a serious case of acute myocarditis– and transferred her to California Pacific Medical Center, under the care of Ernest Haeusslein, M.D., a cardiologist who specializes in heart failure. Haeusslein regularly participates in clinical trials and therefore has access to experimental drugs and devices. His experience in heart failure and VADs made him the perfect referral choice for Chin.
Wang, who has only lived in this country for two years, was transferred to the CCU – where she went into cardiac arrest. Staff revived her with CPR. She went into arrest again – and this time, Haeusslein brought in G. James Avery, M.D., Surgical Director of the Heart Transplantation Program and cardiothoracic surgeon Glen Egrie, M.D.
CCU staff performed CPR for an incredible 65 minutes – taking turns while she was wheeled into the OR and while Avery put her on peripheral bypass.
When her circulation was supported on cardiopulmonary bypass, doctors inserted a CentriMag® Right and Left Ventricular Assist Device to keep her circulation going to support her other vital organs – brain, liver and kidneys.
“The CentriMag® is a good quick fix because it can be inserted very rapidly,” explains Avery. “But it is not a long-term solution.”
Avery waited to see how his patient would respond – and he did not have to wait long. After one day, Wang awoke – and her liver and kidney function looked good. Two days later, Avery had her back in the OR, removing the CentriMag® and replacing it with the HeartMate® II LVAD. As a test site for clinical research, California Pacific has been implanting the HeartMate® II device since 2006 – two years longer than any other Northern California medical center. In fact, California Pacific has a long history of VAD use and research. In 1984, we were the first hospital in the West Coast to successfully use a VAD for a patient waiting for a heart transplant. Since then California Pacific has implanted over 200 VADS in more than 130 patients.
Because it is a much smaller device than its predessor, the HeartMate® II is easier to implant in smaller patients such as Wang, who weighs about 100 pounds and stands 4’11” tall. And while the HeartMate® II is often used for destination therapy or as a bridge-to-transplant Avery is hopeful that in Wang’s case, it can be used as a bridge-to-recovery – and the device can ultimately be removed.
Joey recovered using CPMC's Cardiac Rehabilitation program.
“Joey has youth on her side, so it should only take a couple of months for her to get her nutrition up to speed and regain her strength. If her heart recovers sufficiently, we’ll remove the device and she won’t need a transplant.”
California Pacific Heart and Vascular Center
California Pacific's Heart and Vascular Center is supported by one of the best heart hospital/center networks in the USA, offering quality, comprehensive patient-centered cardiovascular care by a team of top heart surgeons and physicians with leading-edge technology. Serving the entire San Francisco Bay Area, including San Francisco and Marin County, as well as the entire Northern California region, our team has many of the best cardiovascular surgeons and physicians in California and the United States.
Make sure to read Part II of Joey's amazing story!