Ventricular Assist Device

What is a VAD?

For selected patients with advanced heart failure, Indiana University Health Transplant offers additional therapies, including Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD). A VAD is a mechanical pump that is used to support heart function and blood flow for patients who have a weakened heart. It is often used with patients who are awaiting a heart transplant or as a “bridge-to-transplant.” A VAD can also be used as destination therapy or as an alternative to heart transplant. This provides long-time support to patients who are not candidates for transplant. Our VAD program is certified by the Joint Commission for VAD destination therapy.

How does a VAD work?

This tool moves blood from a lower chamber of the heart and helps pump it through the body. It does not replace the heart; rather it assists the heart in pumping blood. There are many types and sizes of VADs. The type of VAD depends on a patient’s individual needs while the size of the VAD depends on its function. In general, the tool consists of a pump unit, a control system and an energy supply.

The amount of time a VAD can support a patient is dependent on the type of system in place and whether it was implanted as a bridge-to-transplant or as destination therapy.

Who is eligible for a VAD?

Our care team will help determine if a VAD is appropriate based on your medical condition, symptoms, age, body size and other medical conditions. A VAD is not recommended for patients who have blood clotting disorders, irreversible kidney failure, severe liver disease, severe lung disease, or infections that cannot be treated with antibiotics.