While Waiting for New Heart, VAD Saved His Life

On New Year’s Eve 2005, 15-year-old Adam McCann began having trouble breathing so his parents took him to a local hospital. A chest x-ray revealed his heart was significantly enlarged.

Physicians determined that Adam was in severe heart failure. The suspected cause was a viral infection. He needed immediate treatment or he would die. Initially, Adam was stabilized with medication, but that was only short term.

Over the next few weeks doctors determined the best treatment option for Adam would be a heart transplant, but Adam couldn’t wait for a donor heart to become available. Physicians decided to implant a Thoratec® Ventricular Assist Device System, also known as a VAD. This device allows the heart to rest while it pumps blood to the major blood vessels.

Adam remained on the VAD for six months while physicians closely monitored his heart for signs of recovery. The heart, however, showed very little improvement.

Then in July, his heart rhythm spun out of control. He was placed on the active transplant list and miraculously, a suitable heart was located just one hour later. And just a few hours after that, Dr. Sheffield performed the delicate operation to remove Adam’s damaged heart and implant a healthy one.

“It’s been nothing but good for Adam ever since,” says his mother, Melissa McCann. “He looks amazing. You never would have guessed the hell the poor kid went through.”

Adam is now following his dream of learning how to fly.

“It’s amazing to be up there,” Adam says. “It’s just you and the sky. You see things that people don’t normally see, things from up above. You feel so free.”