by Sharon Sanders
On any given day, about 3,000 Americans with advanced heart failure wait for a transplant. Yet, only about 2,000 donor hearts are available each year according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
With the recent FDA approval of the HeartWare® Ventricular Assist System (HVAD), used internationally since 2009, many patients now have a “bridge to transplantation.”
Doug Godshall ’86 is president and CEO of HeartWare, Framingham, Mass., the company that created and markets HVAD. “Nearly 1,000 HVADs have been placed in patients in the U.S., for a total of approximately 5,000 implants in 37 countries,” Godshall says.
The HVAD fits in the pericardial space beside the heart and is a major improvement over larger devices placed in the abdomen. Those pumps require more surgery, which could increase the chance of infection.
“One of the most important things in my life was going to Lafayette,” says Godshall, an economics and business graduate who earned an MBA from Northeastern University. “I thought I was going to be an engineer for a year and a half, and that gave me just enough exposure to the engineering discipline. I can have a reasonably intelligent conversation with our engineers, and they’re comfortable talking to me about technical issues.”
An English minor, he adds, “Writing skills are vastly underestimated. You can’t lose sight of the fact that you’ll be communicating your ideas to other people.”
The company is now working on introducing the miniaturized pump. “We expect first in-human clinical trials to begin early this year,” he says.