Valley man living without a pulse, thanks to LVAD heart pump

Posted at 5:07 AM, Sep 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-25 10:02:33-04

Barry Peretz is living without a pulse. 

The now 71-year-old once considered working out at the gym an impossible task. Now, he's doing it three times a week for over an hour. 

"I can do the things I couldn't do before," he said. In his own words, he's "living a new life."

Peretz had his first major heart attack at 33 years old. As time went on, his weekly trips to the emergency room led to a grim conversation with his doctor. 

"He had to face me and say to me that, 'Barry, we've come as far as we can with you. There's nothing else we can do for you.'" It got to the point where Peretz would need to sit down after walking a single aisle at the grocery store. 

Pills weren't enough. A transplant was off the table. A series of specialists led Peretz to a team at Banner University Hospital, recommending he undergo surgery to have a device, known as an LVAD, implanted in his heart. 

Ten months later, "it's given me hope," he told ABC15. 

The battery-powered pump circulates blood on its own and bypasses the left ventricle. It's now being used as a long-term, permanent solution for people with heart failure. 

"Fifty percent of the patients will pass away within ten years after a heart transplant," said Dr. Orazio Amabile, Barry's surgeon. "This is lasting people up to ten years now so it may be taking over transplant in the future." 

Peretz said he is now able to keep up with his great-grandson at the park, just one of the highlights of his newfound future. 

"I can look forward to five, ten, fifteen years, and say, 'OK, let's start planning vacations again. Let's start getting out there.'"