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UCLA Transplantation Services


Mechanical Circulatory Support

UCLA Mechanical Circulatory Support Program

The UCLA Mechanical Circulatory Support (MCS) Program, directed by Dr. Richard Shemin and Dr. Mario Deng, began in the early 1990’s. Its primary mission is to select patients to receive cardiac support devices with the intention of hospital discharge while they await cardiac transplantation when a suitable organ becomes available. Selected patients will receive devices for lifetime cardiac support or artificial heart replacement when they are not a candidate for cardiac transplantation. ECMO (extracorporeal mechanical oxygenation) support is important for cardiac and pulmonary failure. As an integral component of one of the largest heart transplant programs in the world (performing approximately 100 cardiac transplants annually), over 250 assist devices have been implanted as bridges to transplantation, recovery or destination.


The ventricular assist device (VAD) was once seen only as a bridge to transplantation - a way to keep the sickest patient with heart failure alive until a donor became available. But as the technology continues to improve, it is increasingly viewed as an attractive destination treatment for patients who are not eligible for transplants. In some cases, patients who receive the newest-generation VAD find that their quality of life has improved to the point that they no longer desire a new heart.  A heart transplant still is the ideal therapy, but there are as many as 10,00050,000 people in the United States who have late-stage heart failure and are either on the waiting list or ineligible for a transplant.

Devices currently available at UCLA include:

  1. HeartMate II (Thoratec)
  2. PVAD/Bi-VAD (Thoratec)
  3. CentriMag (Thoratec)
  4. HVAD (Heartware)
  5. Total Artificial Heart (Syncardia)
  6. Berlin Heart (Pediatric)
  7. Tandem Heart (Short term support)
HVAD - Ventricular assist device. Image courtesy of SynCadia Systems, Inc.
As the major tertiary center for advanced heart failure and end-stage heart disease in Southern California, over 200 patients are referred annually, a subset of whom are refractory to traditional therapies and require bi-ventricular mechanical support. Since 2000, over 110 pneumatic BiVADs have been implanted at UCLA with a recent success to transplantation rate of over 80% (highest reported in the country) and a post-transplant 1 year survival of nearly 90%.

We recently began implantation of the HeartMate II left ventricular assist device (VAD) which has been highly successful. Less than 1/3 the size of previous pumps, this technologically advanced continuous flow pump is simple, silent, durable and easy to implant. Patients are often discharged to the comforts of their home within 3 weeks with good quality of life until a suitable donor becomes available.

Courtesy of SynCardia Systems, Inc.
Click to enlarge image.

Contact Us

To refer a potential MCS candidate, please contact the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center 
(310) 825-8816 or (310) 206-6766 (page operator)

MCS Team MembersMechanical Circulatory Support device. Heart - UCLA Transplantation Services.

Richard Shemin, M.D. Surgical Director, MCS Program/Chief Cardiothoracic Surgery
Mario Deng, M.D. Medical Director
Abbas Ardehali, M.D. Surgical Director, Heart and Lung Transplant Program
Murray Kwon, M.D. Cardiothoracic Surgery
Hillel Laks, M.D. Cardiothoracic Surgery


Elan Howell, RN, BSN, CCRN, VAD Coordinator
Elan Howell, RN, BSN, CCRN, Lead VAD Coordinator
Anthony Salimbangon, RN, BSN., VAD Coordinator
Anthony Salimbangon, RN, BSN, CCRN, VAD Coordinator

Amy Chang, RN, BSN, CCRN, VAD CoordinatorAmy Chang, RN, BSN, CCRN, VAD Coordinator




Ventricular Assist Device Patient Education


Patient Education

Download our patient education brochure (PDF) for more information.

1. Introduction
2. How the Heart Works
3. Heart Disease and VADs
4. Alternative Treatments
5. The Implantation Procedure
6. After Surgery
7. Risks and Complications
8. Anticoagulation
9. Discharge from the Hospital
10. Living with a VAD
11. Summary



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