For Yasir Yesuf, 2009 started off with two huge changes, he received a new heart and a new home. Yasir and his family, originally from Ethiopia, moved into a Habitat for Humanity house in the Atlanta area just before the new year. This homecoming was made particularly special by the fact that at 5 months old, Yasir had just become the first pediatric patient in the state of Georgia to receive a Berlin Heart to bridge a successful heart transplant.
When he was five months old, Yasir was admitted to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Sibley Heart Center suffering from severe heart failure. Yasir needed a new heart, but his doctors worried that he might not be strong enough the wait for a donor heart to become available. In order to buy him a little more time, he was given a Berlin Heart as a bridge for his heart before transplant. Although the Berlin Heart has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, Yasir’s surgeons were allowed to implant the device on a compassionate-use basis.
The Berlin Heart is a device that allows children who are waiting for a transplant to be removed from a ventilator and gives them the ability to be up walking around and eating. Due to the mobility offered by the Berlin Heart, patients become better candidates for a transplant when a donor heart does arrive. For Yasir, it helped his left ventricle pump blood to the body, which was something that his heart was too weak to do on its own. The Berlin Heart is unique because it is the only device of its kind that is designed for use in pediatric patients as small as infants.
Yasir received a donor heart twelve hours after undergoing the Berlin Heart surgery. He was successfully transplanted and is starting off 2009 on the road to recovery. Yasir still returns to Children’s Sibley Heart Center for check-ups, but he is fortunate enough to be able to spend his recovery time in his new home surrounded by his family.