New heart pump being tested in Canada

Lauza Legere’s heart is beating strong this Valentine’s Day but not because she’s been poked with Cupid’s arrow.

Dr. Renzo Cecere

Dr. Renzo Cecere

MONTREAL — Lauza Legere’s heart is beating strong this Valentine’s Day but not because she’s been poked with Cupid’s arrow.

She’s helping test the C-Pulse Heart Assist System, a new device that rhythmically squeezes her aorta and pumps blood to her damaged heart.

“I feel much better than before,” Legere said in a telephone interview, explaining that before she got the pump it was hard to even take a breath.

“I stopped every two or three words because I was out of breath. I wasn’t able to walk. With the pump, it helps my heart to get the oxygen that I wasn’t able to have.”

Dr. Renzo Cecere of the McGill University Health Centre says Legere is the first person in Canada to get the device, which reduces blood clots that can cause strokes.

He is currently conducting trials on the pump and hopes to implant 12 devices in the next 18 months.

“There are probably thousands of patients who might benefit from a pump like this,” said the doctor, who is director of the Mechanical Heart Assist Program and surgical director of the MUHC’s transplant program.

“This would be an effective therapy as a so-called bridge to transplant. Alternatively, some patients would receive this as what we call destination therapy — this is their last and only option.”

The device is basically a cuff around the aorta, the artery that pumps blood from the heart to the rest of the body. A balloon inside the device inflates and deflates with each heartbeat, pumping the blood through the heart.

There is no need to make incisions into the heart or any major blood vessels during the implantation of the device, which is run by an external battery and mini-computer. Both are worn on the outside of the body.

Patients also don’t need to take anti-clotting medications after surgery.

Legere, who lives in Laval, Que., suffered a heart attack last Aug. 25 and was in bad shape, said Cecere.

“She came to my office in a wheelchair, extremely short of breath, very poor quality of life and no other option,” Cecere said.

The doctor said Legere, who is in her mid-50s, was not a suitable candidate for a transplant at that moment and that other medical treatments weren’t working for her.

Legere had the C-Pulse implanted last Dec. 21.

The pump, which was invented in New Zealand, is based on a concept that’s been around for 30 years, Cecere said. In the past, the technique has been used on heart patients who need additional, temporary support after surgery.

“It’s based on the concept of a balloon which is inserted in the aorta (which) inflates and deflates in synchrony with the heart’s rhythm,” he explained.

“That concept was applied to a device which is implantable and can be operated on the long term versus the original device which was a short-term device.”

The pump can be stopped and disconnected for a short period so the patient can take a shower or go for a brief swim.

“They may not have that assist, that extra boost that the pump provides but it shouldn’t be tragic for them,” Cecere said.

“This is why it can be extremely well tolerated for the patient to disconnect the pump and carry out some activities.”

Legere, whose next step may be a heart transplant when she’s healthy enough and a donor heart is available, said she’s hooked up to the machine 23 out of 24 hours.

“If I’m disconnected too long, I start breathing like before.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Rebels forward Arshdeep Bains eyes a loose puck in front of the Medicine Hat Tigers net Saturday night in WHL action at the Centrium. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels fall short in 12th straight loss

Tigers 5 Rebels 2 (Saturday) Tigers 3 Rebels 2 (Monday) The Red… Continue reading

Red Deer property owners will receive their 2019 property assessment notices in the next few days.  (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer awaiting more details on how federal budget impacts city

The City of Red Deer is awaiting more information on how much… Continue reading

With a ban on sit-in dining once again in place, Las Palmeras owner Andre Lemus is gearing up for more takeout and delivery business. He has also applied to set up an outdoor patio, where dining is allowed under new restrictions. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Big interest in outdoor patios in Red Deer as sit-down dining banned again

City of Red Deer has tweaked its patio regulations to make it easier to get a permit

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators' Connor Brown, right, scores on Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom during second-period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Alta., Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Connor Brown scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 4-2 win over Calgary Flames

Connor Brown scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 4-2 win over Calgary Flames

Canada head coach Bev Priestman reacts during the women's international friendly soccer match between England and Canada at Bet365 stadium in Stoke on Trent, England, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. Priestman says her goal is to help Canada move up the Olympic podium after back-to-back bronze medals at the 2012 and 2016 Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rui Vieira
Olympic soccer draw will allow Canadians to start planning on and off the pitch

Olympic soccer draw will allow Canadians to start planning on and off the pitch

Federal government’s extension of CEWS in budget is some good news for CFL franchises

Federal government’s extension of CEWS in budget is some good news for CFL franchises

Canada's Brendan Bottcher dropped a 6-3 decision to Scotland's Bruce Mouat in the men's final of the Humpty's Champions Cup. Bottcher makes a shot against Scotland at the Men's World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Friday, April 9, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Mixed results for Canadian teams at Champions Cup as Homan wins, Bottcher loses

Mixed results for Canadian teams at Champions Cup as Homan wins, Bottcher loses

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. The University of Victoria says Williams has resigned effective immediately. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
University of Victoria women’s rowing coach resigns by mutual agreement

University of Victoria women’s rowing coach resigns by mutual agreement

Stewart Cink watches his drive down the second fairway during the final round of the RBC Heritage golf tournament in Hilton Head Island, S.C., Sunday, April 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Cink coasts to win at Hilton Head for 2nd title of season

Cink coasts to win at Hilton Head for 2nd title of season

The Official UEFA Champions League match balls are on display ahead of the Champions League quarter final second leg soccer match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Wednesday, April 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Threats of expulsion as UEFA confronts Super League rebel 12

Threats of expulsion as UEFA confronts Super League rebel 12

San Jose Sharks center Patrick Marleau (12) motions to the crowd during a break to mark his passing Gordie Howe for most NHL games played in the first period of an NHL hockey game Monday, April 19, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Sharks’ Marleau breaks Howe’s NHL games played record

Sharks’ Marleau breaks Howe’s NHL games played record

Most Read