Mini version of heart device designed for children

LOS ANGELES

Now a child-size new version of a device that helped a powerful politician is giving kids the gift of more time.

When you're only 3 and have four big brothers, you practically have to become a superhero to survive. And little Charlie McMicken is channeling all the super strength he can to ward off a deadly foe.

"He started just not eating, then he was throwing up and he was crying non-stop," said Sarah McMicken, Charlie's mother.

Shortly after he was born, Charlie was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy.

"He was born with a condition where his muscle cells are not normal," said pediatric congenital heart surgeon Dr. Robert Stewart, the Cleveland Clinic. "He wasn't able to run around, and eventually it got bad enough where he wasn't able to eat."

But a new device is changing everything for Charlie. It's the pediatric Berlin Heart, a similar but smaller version of a device that helped former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney when his heart was failing.

In children, it sits outside the body and is connected to the heart by multiple tubes. The device pumps blood to vital organs, helping the failing heart.

"His vital signs were better. Everything was better quite quickly," said Dr. Stewart.

August marks Charlie's 11th month in the Cleveland Clinic. For six months he's been tethered to his lifeline.

"If we didn't have that, we wouldn't be here. I mean, it saved his life," said his mother.

But this is only a temporary fix. Charlie will need a heart transplant to survive and get back with his brothers where he belongs.

"I can't wait to go home and throw the baseball with him," said Charlie's brother Ryan.

"I want to go swimming with in the pool again," said brother Jake.

"I want to have a huge party and celebrate him coming back. I've missed him so much," said Charlie's third brother, Johnny.

We're happy to report Charlie has received his heart. Doctors say he is doing well.

Before FDA approval of the pediatric Berlin Heart, emergency access was only given to child patients with special written permission. The device would have to be flown in from Germany, and patients would wait several days to get it, time many young heart patients didn't have.

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