Arkansas Heart Hospital is the first in the nation to successfully implant what's called a Parachute Device inside a human during current clinical trials. Thursday night's episode of Grey's Anatomy featured this same procedure that is, so far, showing to improve the health and quality of life of patients.
Grey's Anatomy gives viewers a dose of medical drama every week...and in Thursday night's episode, the show re-created a real-life scene that played out first in this cath lab - at Arkansas Heart Hospital.
That white device in the actor's hand... is called a Parachute Device. The same kind you see Dr. Mehmet Cilingiroglu of Arkansas Heart Hospital showing us here.
Cilingiroglu says, "the device gets implanted into the heart as such, and when it comes to body temperature, it self expands."
This Parachute implant is an experimental device, designed for patients who have congestive heart failure, as a result of a heart attack. Doctor Mehmet, along with Doctors William Rollefson and David Mego have helped pioneer this latest medical breakthrough.
"We were lucky to be the first center in U.S. to enroll the first two patients successfully. The successful implantation of the device," says Cilingiroglu.
Rollefson adds, "Every year there's a latest, great advance. and we've been able to blaze the trail in that regard, which I think has benefited everybody."
Mego says, "We're privileged to really be on the cutting edge of a lot of new technologies here it's kinda been our mantra for a while. this is an example of that."
65 year old Royce Skocdopole can attest to that. He had a Parachute Device implanted into his heart here just weeks ago.
"The way they talked about it, how much it would improve my life...I said, I'm for it," says Skocdopole.
Scothdopole's heart problems came to light a couple years ago. He had a history of heart disease in his family, but still thought it couldn't happen to him... and of course it did.
"I actually had two heart attacks in two days," he says.
His heart so damaged by those two heart attacks... that it enlarged... and the remaining healthy heart didn't function well. Skocdopole's shortness of breath became so severe...he could barely get around. So, he sought help from Arkansas heart hospital... and the parachute device.
Here's how the procedure worked - a tube was inserted through the groin, and then up into the heart. through the tube, the device was pushed out the end and expanded... walling off the damaged heart, making the chamber smaller... and allowing the healthy part of the heart to function more efficiently.
The results - were dramatic... and immediate.
"Increased his pumping function of his heart anywhere from 20 percent to 35 percent. Significant improvement," says Cilingiroglu.
"Since we had this procedure, I'm not afraid to tackle a lot of things. I'm getting a new lease on life, and that's what anybody could hope for," says Skocdopole.
Doctors say this is an example of cardiology that has exceeded expectations.
"It's unbelievably gratifying. it's rewarding. we're happy to be part of this project in Arkansas.. and heart hospitals efforts to furthering research in the community," says Dr. Mego.
And it's probably only a matter of time before Seattle Grace takes the real-life script of doctors in Arkansas.. to once again create the drama you see on TV.
Patients who undergo this procedure are on blood thinners for one year, so they won't develop clots until the tissue grows over the Parachute and covers it.