Largo Medical Center the first in Pinellas to implant heart-saving device

Seminole resident Gregory Pruitt is the first in Pinellas County to receive a ventricular assist device. The first successful implant at Largo Medical Center was performed May 14 by a team of clinicians headed up by Dr. Christiano Caldeira.

LARGO — Largo Medical Center is the only hospital in Pinellas County approved by Det Norske Veritas Healthcare Inc. and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to implant a device restoring blood flow throughout the body for those with advanced heart failure and for those who have exhausted other medical therapies.

The device is called a ventricular assist device. The first successful implant at LMC was performed May 14 by a team of clinicians headed up by Dr. Christiano Caldeira, a cardiothoracic surgeon, on 60-year-old Seminole resident Gregory Pruitt.

“I could feel myself slowing down, and now I have the time to spend that I want with my kids and grandkids,” said Pruitt. “The hospital’s team of nurses, techs and coordinators, plus Dr. Caldeira, gave me another chance at life and for that I am eternally grateful.”

A ventricular assist device is surgically attached to a patient’s ventricle and to his or her aorta, the main artery that carries oxygenated blood from the left ventricle to the entire body.

“Candidates for this implant will go through an extensive evaluation process including lab work and diagnostic testing,” said Caldeira. “A multidisciplinary team of nurses to social workers and nutritionists to financial advisers then meet to review and approve patients based on select criteria.”

“Being able to offer this implant here in Pinellas County prevents our local residents who are in heart failure from having to travel far to receive the healthcare they need,” said Adam Rudd, CEO of Largo Medical Center. “In this first year of providing this service in the Largo Advanced Heart Failure Center we expect to perform 20 or more.”