Northshore Magazine

March 2016

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 58 of 196

56 | MARCH 2016 The last thing Dan Wolpert remem- bers before collapsing in front of the emergency room entrance at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester is shutting his car door behind him. He woke up four days later, after having a heart attack, after having been resuscitated five times, after getting a couple of stents, and after having the Im- pella 2.5, the world's smallest heart pump, implanted in his heart. Wolpert was one of the first people in New England to get the Impella. The device had only re- ceived FDA approval a few months before. Without it, Wolpert says his heart "definitely was not pumping enough blood to keep me alive." The Impella's small size—small- er than the width of a pencil—al- lows it to be implanted through the femoral artery, rather than by opening a patient's chest and mak- ing an incision in the aorta. "Because the pump is so small, it can be put into the heart within minutes through a small hole in the leg," says Michael R. Minogue, CEO, chairman, and president of Abi- omed, the Danvers–based company that makes the Impella and that has pioneered life-saving medical tech- nology since it was founded in 1981. Once the Impella is implanted, it pumps the heart mechanically, allow- ing the muscle to get the rest it needs to recover. "When our pump goes in, it mechanically pumps the blood out of the left ventricle. So it starts doing the work for the heart muscle," Minogue says. It's also temporary; the device is removed after it's done its job. Wolpert remembers the shock of meeting the head of UMass Memo- rial Medical Center's transplant team while he was in the hospital, but fear turned into relief, thanks to the Impella pump. It not only allowed his heart muscle to rest and recover, but saved him from eventually needing a heart trans- plant, which is expensive, requires taking immunosuppressing drugs, and has only about a 50 percent 10-year life expectancy. The Impella manages to not only save lives but save money, too, and to do so in a minimally invasive way. "It is the Holy Grail," Minogue says. "If you can send somebody home with their own heart and improve the muscle, that's always going to be the best outcome for the patient." Of Danvers, Minogue says, "It's a great place to work and a great place to recruit people. The access to talent in the area itself is out- standing." He also appreciates the area for its location: "Danvers is a great spot because you have access to some of the best hospitals, some of the best teaching institutions," he says. It also offers a nice quality of life, thanks to the town's proximity to Boston, skiing, and the ocean. Abiomed is continuing to expand, both at its Danvers facility and in its medical device offerings; Mi- nogue jokingly calls it a "34-year-old start-up company." Not only are its heart pumps "going to keep getting smaller and smarter," but they'll help more patients, too. For in- stance, in March 2015, the com- pany received FDA approval to use the Impella 2.5 heart pump during elective and urgent high-risk per- cutaneous coronary intervention procedures, and in January, the Impella RP System became the first percutaneous single-access heart pump designed for right-heart sup- port to receive FDA approval. "That's a brand-new applica- tion," Minogue says of the right- side device. "There's no other product like it in the world." Meanwhile, seven years after his brush with death, Wolpert sees a cardiologist regularly, has an implanted defibrillator that's never fired, and leads a pretty normal life. "I was able to get back to racing my car and downhill skiing," he says. "Without the Impella, I'm pretty sure my life would have been very, very different." Abiomed, Inc. 22 Cherry Hill Dr. Danvers 978-777-5410 CONTACT photographs by Elise Sinagra BY ALEXANDRA PECCI A Danvers–based company develops a new heart pump, preventing invasive surgery and offering hope to heart patients. Small Miracles Abiomed CEO Michael R. Minogue; the Impella 2.5 heart pump

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Northshore Magazine - March 2016