Berlin Heart bridges gap, brings hope

9:26 AM, Mar 28, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Next week will mark six months since Charlie McMicken will call the Cleveland Clinic home.

It also means six months that he's been waiting for a heart transplant.

Back in December his health started to decline. Time seemed to be running out. But a compassion-use-approval by the FDA of something called a Berlin Heart is now helping to keep Charlie alive.

The device is external and is connected to the chambers of his heart through his abdomen. It bridges the gap between the struggles that come with his cardiomyopathy and when a donor becomes available.

The Berlin Heart is used for babies and children. The mechanics of the machine are extensive including a computer and other medicinal monitors. It's a large device that is now with this tiny three-year-old all of the time. It takes an entourage of people to take Charlie for a walk but the time to get outside of the hospital walls is priceless.

The device can only be unplugged for 30 minutes. Unlike other heart and lung machines, that are used under careful watch during surgery and only for short periods of time, the Berlin Heart pumps 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week.

The Cleveland Clinic now has Berlin Heart machines available for use in critical situations like Charlie's.

"As we get more and more familiar with the Berlin Heart, we are more apt to intervene earlier," said Dr. Bob Stewart who is Charlie's cardiologist, "and so Charlie wasn't about to die any second when we put it in, but he clearly was getting sicker and sicker. And so in terms of would I think he would have survived to the point of getting a transplant? Absolutely not."

Charlie's parents John and Sarah say his overall health has improved, his color is back and he is gaining weight.

The Auburn/Bainbridge Township Community where the McMicken's are from has stepped up in a major way to help the family. Making countless meals and helping to raise money. You will also see people wearing T-shirts and red bracelets in support of him.

You can find out more about the campaign by clicking on the link.


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