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EIT Health project wins Horizon Impact Award

23rd September 2020

MACH project collaboration between RWTH Aachen University and Uniklinik RWTH Aachen, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle University and Berlin Heart GmbH supports children awaiting heart transplantation

The European Commission has today announced that the EIT Health project MACH is a winner of the prestigious Horizon Impact Award. The awards are designed to recognise and celebrate societal advancements through research and innovation.

The “Mobile Autonomy for Children in end stage Heart failure” (MACH) project is an international collaboration between RWTH Aachen University and Uniklinik RWTH Aachen, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle University and Berlin Heart GmbH to develop and launch a mobile driving unit for the EXCOR® ventricular assist device, a blood pump to assist a failing heart.

“This programme successfully brought together experts from academia, healthcare and industry to work towards a common goal – to improve the lives of children waiting for a heart transplant” explains project lead, Professor Carina Benstöm.

The EXCOR® Active driving unit provides mobility to children with end-stage heart failure waiting for a heart transplant. Children can spend months and sometimes several years in a hospital waiting for an organ. The goal of this project was to reduce the stress impact of a long term hospitalisation on children on the waiting list and their families, by offering them mobility and autonomy in their daily lives in the hospital environment. Children who have been very sick need to recover, build up muscles, explore and play. The new mobile device helps make this possible.

During the waiting time for a donor heart, these young heart patients are looked after by a team of dedicated nurses, intensive care doctors, surgeons, cardiologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, play leaders and psychologists who help the family to cope and to become experts in their child’s care.   “Patients and families were given a voice in the project through interviews discussing how to make their experience more positive.  The device and the new learning platform will benefit the family as well as the child waiting for a donor heart” says Dr Emma Simpson from Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, whose team worked with researchers from Newcastle University.

The Berlin Heart EXCOR® Paediatric is the only Ventricular Assist Device approved worldwide for short to long term support in children of all ages with heart failure*. This project supported development of a smaller, lighter and more mobile driving unit with a longer battery time by switching from a compressor technology to piston drivers, which are lighter and quieter. Since attaining CE Mark last year, the “EXCOR Active” has supported the first patients in Germany.

“At Berlin Heart, we understand that patient-centred innovation requires close collaboration between engineering, health care professionals and end-users” states Sven-Rene Friedel. “We are happy to see the positive impact of the EXCOR Active recognised by such a prestigious award” adds Dr Ares K. Menon, Managing Director of Berlin Heart. 

The 10.000€ prize money from the award will be donated to projects such as a facility that supports families staying near their hospitalised children in Munich and key initiatives with long-term benefit to patients at Freeman Hospital, Newcastle.”

*Access to some or all mentioned products may be restricted by country-specific regulatory approvals. The use of EXCOR® VAD for adults, RVAD-support, Excor mobile and EXCOR® Active is not FDA-approved.

To read more about the MACH project, please visit eithealth.eu/project/mach.

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