has provided medical technology for more than 30 years to patients around the world with acute to chronic heart failure.
On Thursday, patients met with the engineers at Thoratec responsible for building the HeartMate II — a device these people depend on every day.
The HeartMate II is Thoratec's newest development in the Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD). "Approved in 2008 by the FDA, the device has shown "dramatic improvements in survival, durability, and quality of life."
Upon meeting a patient who has been using the HeartMate II for years, you would never guess they were in contact with near-death experiences or had to endure any painful procedures.
"Right after my baby was born I had pneumonia, then kidney failure, then heart failure," explains Laura Huber from South Dakota.
"It was quick. I didn't have any other option and the HeartMate II was available right away."
She's been thriving on the LVAD for 5 years (in May.)
Patients like Dennis Hall from Minnesota appreciate being able to do things he normally wouldn't before having the Heart Mate II.
"I just walked a 5k recently," says Dennis.
"I drive cars, trucks, and can partake in any activity. The device keeps you alive -- it saves lives. I wear my fishing vest so people can see the lines."
Advocating for the HeartMate II comes with the device. Since introducing the new LVAD to the public, more than 10,000 people have been implanted with the new device and have shown improvements in the quality of life.
So how does Thoratec get the word out on such a truly extraordinary piece of equipment?
"We're on a mission to let people know about advance heart failure nationally," says Thoratec's Susan Hopkins.
"We've hosted 23 local meetings across the nation. We believe first in advocacy and empowerment through the patients. We listen to their stories and share them at the summits."
As the Director of Patient Advocacy at Thoratec, Hopkins is responsible for communicating to the public about such break-through technology and connecting that with the patients who receive the treatments.
Michael Joshua Morris of New York explains his trials with heart failure.
"I remember being at a really bad place in my life thinking I would never be the same. But having the device (hanging out with me) gave me life again."
After two and a half years, he survived countless treatments before finally getting the device.
"They say that miracles are measured by the birth of a baby," he said. "Well I can say that miracles can be seen through a heart patient when their cheeks turn pink for the first time."
During the event, engineers and employees alike applauded as patients told stories. Some had travelled from far distances.
For local Nicole Ludwig of Danville, she was just happy to be doing things she always wanted to.
"HeartMate II allowed me to be home with my daughter while I awaited a heart transplant."
In the fall, Thoratec Corporation will be conducting a direct to consumers advertising campaign surrounding the HeartMate II in print and radio as well as selected cities and local events. Please contact Susan Benton at 310.697.3488 for any inquiries. Any information regarding the HeartMate II can be found on their website.