Fontan Blood Pump: Advanced Prototype Completion

Dr. Mark D. Rodefeld, Indiana University

Amount Funded: $60,000

Children with single ventricle congenital heart disease are missing half of their hearts, and they face lifelong challenges. Although tremendous advances in their care have occurred through palliative repair, full cure is not possible. A series of three high-risk staged open-heart procedures is required to reach the end point of a Fontan circulation. Beyond this stage, patients live the remainder of their lives with this palliative state. As more and more single ventricle children survive surgical repair and reach adulthood, it is becoming increasingly apparent that they are at high risk of circulatory failure as they age. In fact, they represent the most rapidly growing and problematic group of children and adults with congenital heart disease.

In a certain sense, a Fontan circulation is a man-made form of chronic heart disease. It is identical to a normal 2-ventricle circulation with the exception that it lacks a right-sided pump. This creates inherent inefficiencies that lead to the backup of blood in the body and reduced cardiac output, which lead to progressive organ disease and eventual circulatory failure.

To address this problem, we have proposed a solution that is powerfully simple and logical: reinstate the missing power source and emulate a more efficient and healthy 2-ventricle circulation. Placing a blood pump into the right-sided circulation in a Fontan patient is in reality a very complex task. No such pump currently exists. Over more than a decade of research, we have endeavored to identify and overcome the obstacles to accomplish this in a way that is safe and reliable. We are currently in the advanced stages of development of a Fontan blood pump with self-contained motor that is capable of permanently reversing the Fontan.

Funds are needed to complete the fabrication an advanced prototype Fontan pump. The design is complete. Once built, we will obtain feasibility data that will put us into competitive position for large-scale Federal grant funding, and will push the technology across the developmental gap toward commercialization. This technology will tremendously impact patients with single functional ventricle by enabling the ultimate treatment strategy: long term maintenance of biventricular health. Quality of life will be improved and health will potentially be extended to the equivalent of a normal lifespan.