Cincinnati Children's: heart assist device could add years to lives of Duchenne patients

Oct 16, 2012

Cincinnati Children's Hospital is announcing what it says could be the biggest breakthrough in muscular dystrophy treatment in years.  A patient at Children's is believed to be the first in the nation with Duchenne  muscular dystrophy to have a device implanted to help his heart pump blood to the body long-term.   

"This is a major milestone in the care of Duchenne muscular dystrophy," said Dr. John Lynn Jefferies at the Cincinnati Children's Heart Institute.  "This treatment offers the possibility to change the outcome and the lives of these young men in a significant way that has never been realized up until now."

DMD affects mostly males with about 80 percent of them ultimately dying of heart failure.  Children's says the implanted left ventricular assist device could add years or even decades of life. 

Surgeons, led by Dr. David Morales,  implanted the device in the chest of Jason Williams, 29, a DMD patient from Peebles, Ohio.

"I wanted to live longer with a better quality of life, and help other people--those with Duchenne facing heart failure and death," said Williams.  "I hope that doctors and surgeons can learn from my surgery and my recovery and be able to offer this treatment to other men and boys with Duchenne."

About 2,500 individuals are born around the world each year with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.  It's part of a  group of inherited diseases in which the muscles progressively weaken.