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Union County Woman Is One of the Longest US Survivors With a Type of Heart Pump

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The device, called a Left Ventricular Assist Device, takes the place of a damaged part of the heart.

A woman from Union County is one of the longest living patients in the US with a type of heart pump.

It’s called a left ventricular assist device, designed to do what that part of the heart cannot.

42-year old Mayra Rodriguez has lived with hers for 14 years. She is the longest-living New Jersey resident with this device.

Margarita Camacho of Newark Beth Israel is the doctor who implanted the device in Rodriguez 14 years ago.

“She herself had an incredible will to live, she’s been to the Grand Canyon,” said Camacho. “She’s someone who is very active, she goes to the gym all the time, she also is a spokesperson for this technology.”

Rodriguez’ heart had been damaged by chemotherapy treatments for cancer.

The device was not meant to be a permanent solution, only a bridge to a heart transplant, but Camacho said it needs to be.

“As a surgeon, my hope is that the devices will ultimately be an outstanding alternative to transplant because we cannot transplant everyone,” she said. “We have a severe shortage of donor hearts.”

In 2020 only about 3600 heart transplants were performed around the world.

“I think that anybody that’s had a life changing heart failure operation really looks at every day as a miracle in a way,” said Camacho, “but I would say that they should hopefully be a little bit more cautiously optimistic and realize that with the technology we have they’ll likely be living years.”