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Suitulaga "Sugi" Hunkin

Heart Failure Patient Loses 100 Pounds Before Transplant Surgery

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UCSF News reports on the use of a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) as a bridge to a heart transplant allowing a patient to lose the weight needed to undergo the procedure:

Suitulaga "Sugi" Hunkin has been overweight most of his life. He attributes that to his love of food and his Samoan ancestry.  Because of his size, he also had trouble breathing and experienced irregular heartbeat - symptoms his doctors diagnosed as heart disease called cardiomyopathy, which usually leads to heart failure...

He needed heart transplantation surgery to replace his failing heart, but before that could happen, he needed to lose at least 100 pounds.  "If a patient is very obese, he bears a lot of risks and complications, inter-operatively as well as post-operatively," said  Georg Wieselthaler. M.D., Professor of Surgery of UC San Francisco's Division of Adult Cardiothoracic Surgery, and director and surgical chief of the UCSF Cardiac Transplantation and Mechanical Circulatory Support. "And therefore it's absolutely favorable for patients to try and have a body mass index of below 35 before going into a complex operation."

Hunkin chose UCSF to help him with his heart failure. Its pioneering Cardiothoracic Surgery program, now led by Scot H. Merrick, M.D., was established 50 years ago by chair Leon Goldman, MD, and Benson Roe, M.D. The Heart and Lung Transplant Program has historically had high one-year survival outcomes among academic surgery programs nationally. To help Hunkin stay alive, Wieselthaler installed a ventricular assist device (VAD), a mechanical device that helps a failing heart pump blood. The VAD allowed Hunkin stay alive, but it did not help him lose weight.

Read full story at UCSF News

Tags: Heart FailureVentricular Assist Device (VAD)
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