Newark Beth Israel celebrates longest-living New Jersey resident on life-saving heart pump

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NEWARK, NJ — The advanced heart failure treatment and transplant team at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center celebrated New Jersey’s longest-living person on a left ventricular assist device, or LVAD, a mechanical heart pump.

Mayra Rodriguez, 42, from Union County, celebrated her 14th anniversary living with an Abbott HeartMate II LVAD, which helps the heart pump blood from the left ventricle to the aorta and the rest of the body.

Rodriguez is now the longest-living person in New Jersey with an LVAD and one of the longest-living LVAD patients in the country. Only 40 patients in the United States have lived more than 14 years with this device.

“I am so thankful to the team at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t have enough words to express how fortunate I feel to be here today and to have spent the last 14 years enjoying my life with my family.”

“It has been a privilege to watch Mayra progress over the last 14 years. When we met her, she was critically ill, but thanks to the innovative clinical care she received, her determination and the support of her family, Mayra is here with us today celebrating this milestone,” said Dr. Margarita Camacho, surgical director of cardiac transplantation at NBIMC.

“Our advanced heart failure treatment and transplant team is committed to delivering world-class care. Our program is ranked among the top 15 in the country, and it is phenomenal accomplishments such as this one and incredible patients like Mayra who continue to inspire us all,” NBIMC President and CEO Darrell K. Terry Sr. said.

In 2005, Rodriguez was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She underwent chemotherapy that treated her cancer but severely damaged her heart. Then, in 2007, after giving birth to her son, she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. A year later, the advanced heart failure treatment and transplant team at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center implanted an Abbott HeartMate II LVAD, which her physicians expected to last only a few years. Today, Rodriguez is living an active life with the same device that was implanted 14 years ago; she enjoys watching her son grow up, bike riding, hiking, jogging and running with her family.

LVADs were originally approved for use as a bridge to a heart transplant. Today close to 14,000 patients are living with an LVAD and it is also used as “destination therapy” — meaning a final treatment rather than a transitional treatment — for patients such as Rodriguez, who are medically ineligible for heart transplant.

Photos Courtesy of NBIMC