This medical video focuses on the new technology that is being used to help hearts that are failing.
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Jennifer Matthews: Police dispatcher Wilburn Foxworth Jr. can't believe he's healthy enough to field calls about other people's emergencies, instead of struggling with his own. But then Foxworth, who had end stage heart failure, took part in a study to see if a new heart pump could keep him alive until he got a transplant. Wilburn Foxworth Jr.: I think if it wasn't for that pump, I wouldn't have made it, he says. Jennifer Matthews: The new VentraAssist device uses catheters to bypass the pumping chamber of the heart. It's powered by a cord that comes out of the body and plugs into a battery pack. The device works like other versions, but it's smaller, so it can be used on more petite adults and even children. It's also noiseless and can last forever. Dr. Bartley Griffith: It's easier to implant, easier for the patient to receive. Requires, if you wish, a smaller incision. Jennifer Matthews: For now, the pump is used as a bridge to a transplant or an alternative for patients not strong enough for the surgery. Dr. Griffith thinks someday it will also take pressure off hearts to help them heal after heart attacks. Dr. Bartley Griffith: I think these pumps will take major part of the future health care burden away from us, he says. Jennifer Matthews: The pump kept Willburn alive for four months until he got a heart transplant. Now, he has scars, but he's healthy. Wilburn Foxworth Jr.: It saved my life, literally. It made me breathe better. I was able to sleep. I was able to walk without getting tired. Jennifer Matthews: And he believes the pump will soon help others defy the odds, too. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.