Mom living without heartbeat finds hope with wearable technology

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Monday, May 9, 2016
Mom living without working heart
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New technology is giving a mother hope as she waits for a heart transplant

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- It was a special Mother's Day for a Houston woman who's being kept alive through wearable technology.

"I have a huge heart for my daughter," said Danquien Horton who suffers from heart failure due to several bouts with cancer.

Horton wears a small backpack that doubles as her heart. The device is called an LVAD or Left Ventricular Assist Device. It's battery-powered and pumps blood through the left side of her heart throughout her body. She doesn't have a pulse since her heart functions at a very low level.

"It just have to go with you everywhere you go," said Horton and she demonstrated how the device works through a remote control.

"When you put (in one of) these devices, the heart continues to beat, but your pulse is not there. It's a steady flow of blood through the machine," said Dr. Biswajit Kar, medical division chief at the Center for Advanced Heart Failure at Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Texas Medical Center.

Horton is one of about a thousand patients in the Houston area who have an LVAD installed in their bodies. Life can still be risky since the device is battery-powered. Electric providers must be noticed along with first responders, especially since Horton does't have a heartbeat.

Horton is a mother of a 10-year-old girl named Damija.

"I'm worried something will happen to her," said Damija. "We can still do things, but not all things. We have to be careful."

Horton is able to live a normal life while on the machine. However, she can not do certain activities such as swimming or others that include water.

Dr. Kar said, as technology gets smarter and smaller, there will be more patients just like Horton living among us, waiting for a heart transplant.