'Tiniest heart pump' saves former school principal - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

'Tiniest heart pump' saves former school principal

By Ben Watson - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A retired Memphis school principal has a new lease on life because of the world's smallest heart pump.

Just a few months out of the hospital, Ben Greene was hitting golf balls at a local course Tuesday.

"I feel like I am a walking miracle," he said. "The lord has really blessed me."

Green feels blessed because back in January, his heart stopped pumping properly, and doctors told his wife that they didn't know if they could save him,

"Mr. Green was hours away from dying," Dr. Matthew Smolin said. "He had a terribly weak heart, and as a last ditch effort we tried this catheter called an Impella."

The Abiomed Impella is the smallest heart pump in the world.  It's a rare device that, when inserted, takes over the pumping duties of the heart for several days, and gives the heart a chance to heal and repair itself.

"It's a catheter. It's just about four millimeters in diameter," Smolin said. "It lies across the aortic valve, so part of it is within the heart."

Smolin said the tiny pump was inserted in Green's heart for five days.

Typically, the device works best for two types of patients: those who are desperately ill with heart problems, and those whose hearts are too weak for traditional intervention therapy therapies.

As for Greene, he's happy to be playing golf with his wife again

"I feel that the Lord has allowed me to re-invent myself," he said.

And he says he owes it all to his faith, his doctors and a tiny pump.

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