North Texas Doctors Use World's Smallest Heart Pump

69-year-old Malcolm Clarrissimeaux has several blocked arteries near his heart.  He says doctors came in and told him, "You're a primary candidate for bypass surgery."

But Clarrissimeauux would have none of it.  He didn't want doctors cracking open his chest in traditional open-heart surgery.  "I believe in doing everything as non-invasive as you can," says Clarrissimeaux.

Clarrissimeaux turned to Doctor Robert Stoler at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas.  Stoler is using a new device called "Impella" developed by Abiomed of Danvers, Massachusetts.  Impella is the world's smallest heart pump.

The device is so small, it is threaded up through an artery directly into the heart.  "It helps to continue blood flow to the vital organs and to the body in the event that the patient's heart would start to fail," Dr. Stoler explains.

With the pump inserted into Clarrissimeaux's heart, Stoler uses traditional balloon angioplasty and stents to clear several blockages.  The entire procedure takes less than two hours, and Clarrissimeaux will go home the next day.  Open-heart surgery would have kept him in the hospital for a week.

"I anticipate that after having this fixed, he be able to do essentially whatever he wants," Stoler says.

Clarrissimeaux already has a plan.  "You know, just continue on with life."

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