GA Vet receives breakthrough surgery at VA Augusta - Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center
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Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center


GA Vet receives breakthrough surgery at VA Augusta

This Micra pacemaker is the smallest available.

The Micra Pacemaker. (Photo by Jason Tudor)

By Jason Tudor, Public Affairs Officer
Friday, March 1, 2019

With a focus on the most innovative care for Veterans and raising the quality of care, Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center performed a first-ever surgery in at this medical center to save a Veteran's heart.

The VA medical center in Augusta implanted the world's smallest pacemaker Feb. 11 into Army Veteran Michael Honer, who was having recurrent Cardiac arrest due to Bradycardia. Honer is recovering in VA Augusta's Critical Care unit. VA Augusta was the first VA hospital to perform this surgery in Georgia.

"It is good to say we can do [the surgery] here and that we can offer this to our Veterans," said Dr. Mahendra K. Mandawat, the lead physician for the surgery.

 Mandawat, who is also a professor of cardiology at Augusta University, trained to perform the surgery in January.

The surgical team also included Dr. Daniel Arman, Donald Pollard, RN, MBA, nurse manager; Justin Abele, RN; Jan Veihman RN; Cheryl McKesson, RN; Jennifer D. Burke, RCIS; Jose Martinez-Alamo, MIT; and Michael P. Delany, CRNA.

Honer's said he's feeling better since the surgery and joked that he "can't feel any difference between [the Micra] and any other pacemaker."

The VA team that implanted the Pacemaker.

The VA team that implanted the Pacemaker are: Michael P. Delany, CRNA; Dr. Mahendra K. Mandawat, the lead physician for the surgery; Jose Martinez-Alamo, MIT; Justin Abele, RN; Donald Pollard, RN, MBA, nurse manager; Jan Veihman RN; Cheryl McKesson, RN; Jennifer D. Burke, RCIS; and Dr. Daniel Arman, attending. (Photo by Jason Tudor)

Honer's fiancé Shirley Tindall praised the VA hospital for its work and was curious about the new device. "I asked a lot of questions," Tindell said. She said the new technology was something to marvel. "That was awesome."

Dr. Timothy Hall is the deputy chief of staff at the VA Augusta Downtown facility where the surgery was performed. He said having capabilities like this available to Veterans and great people to make them successful is paramount to the facility's success.

"It is important we continue to innovate and bring world-class health care to our Veterans. Successes like this are the reason our Veterans Choose VA. They've earned this health care. We have to continue to earn their trust and earn their business," Hall said.

Unlike traditional pacemakers, the device does not require cardiac wires or a surgical "pocket" under the skin to deliver a pacing therapy. Instead, the device is small enough to be delivered through a catheter and implanted directly into the heart into the right ventricle. Being directly in the heart chamber this also reduced risk of infection.

Bradycardia is a condition characterized by a slow or irregular heart rhythm that causes dizziness, fatigue and fainting spells. Pacemakers are the most common way to treat bradycardia to help restore the heart's normal rhythm and relieve symptoms by sending electrical impulses to the heart to increase the heart rate.

Recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Micra Transcatheter Pacing System provides patients with heart-pacing technology at one-tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker. The manufacturer notes that the pacemaker can last up to 12 years.


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