New procedure at URMC helping heart patients

Loren Vinal is the first patient in the nation to undergo a new minimally invasive surgery to receive an LVAD heart pump.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- A new surgery is helping people with congestive heart failure get back on their feet sooner. Doctors at the University of Rochester Medical Center recently introduced the procedure.

54-year-old Loren Vinal was on vacation when he noticed he couldn't walk as far as usual.

"I would have to stop and really had some labored breathing happening,” said Vinal.

He would eventually suffer a heart attack and be diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

"It was scary,” said Vinal.

While he waited for a transplant his condition worsened. Vinal needed a left ventricular assist device, also known as an LVAD heart pump, to keep him alive. Doctors at UR Medicine had an idea.

"We wanted to go a step further, do something new, something else,” said Dr. Igor Gosev.

Vinal is the first patient in the nation to undergo a new minimally invasive surgery to put in the LVAD heart pump.

"This patient was perfect because he was fairly thin and hadn't had prior heart surgery,” said Dr. Peter Knight.

The procedure required just two small incisions.

"I think it's very important because we fully preserve the sternal bone. In previous cases we would cut through. That makes it somewhat more complicated for us, but much, much better for the patient,” said Dr. Gosev.

"I couldn't figure out why two days after surgery when I walked from the ICU to the other unit there were so many people in the hallways staring at me. I didn't know if I did something wrong or what was happening,” said Vinal.

Vinal is now about 5 weeks out of surgery.

"I am truly amazed. I feel great,” said Vinal.

Doctors at UR Medicine now use this procedure as their main approach for LVAD heart pumps. In total 5 patients have undergone this surgery.

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