World’s smallest heart pump now saving lives at Chandler Regional

Story & photo by Chelsea Martin

wn0405142Edward Townley is appreciative of
plenty things—most importantly
his life. Townley suffered a
massive heart attack on Jan. 10, and
Chandler Regional Medical Center,
with the use of the world’s smallest
heart pump, the Abiomed Impella 2.5,
managed to save his life.
Death having come in such close
proximity, Townley says he is thankful
every single day that he is alive.
“I remember it like it was
yesterday. I went to the store and
came back home, put the dinner on the
counter, and sat down and thought, I’m
not feeling right. Three minutes later, I
was feeling awful so I opened the front
door, called 911, and waited.”
Although Townley disregarded
early signs of trouble a year before, he
hardly missed a beat when he felt the
attack coming on.
William Orlowski, director of
Chandler Regional’s Cardiac Catheter
lab, explained that if Townley had
waited any longer, it’s likely he would
have not made it.
“What he did was perfect,” said
Orlowski. “He knew something was
wrong right away, and that’s what
saved him,” Orlowski said.
“If we can learn anything from
this situation, it’s that more people
dealing with chest pains need to act
on that immediately and go to the
hospital. Never wait—it might be too
Even with Townley’s speedy
response to the signs of his attack,
the Impella 2.5 and the cardiologist,
Ahtisham Shakoor, got much of the
credit for saving his life.
Said Townley of his role in the
lifesaving procedure:
“I was just a passenger on a bus.”
The Abiomed Impella 2.5 is a
heart pump that is 1/100th the size
of the human heart and smaller than
the width of a pencil. During an
angioplasty, it pulls blood from the left
ventricle through an inlet area near
the groin and expels blood from the
catheter into the ascending aorta.
Pumps in the Impella platform
can deliver 2.5 to 5 liters of blood
flow per minute and does not require
“The device alleviates the pressure
and allows the patient’s heart to rest,”
Shakoor said. “After three days, Ed’s
arteries luckily opened up and the
device allowed him enough time to
Over the past decade, there have
been significant strides in medical
research, disease treatment and the
overall improvements of patients’
quality of life.
The Impella 2.5 is no exception.
“Ed’s story truly is a great one,”
Shakoor said. “The technology we now
have in 2014 is incredible. With the use
of the technology and Ed’s willingness
to fight to survive, we are so lucky we
were able to keep him alive. Most of
the time patients that have severely
blocked arteries like Ed, they typically
don’t make it.”
Shakoor added:
“He is one of our success stories.”
Although not all hospitals in the
area are capable of providing the use of
the expensive, progressive technology,
Townley says he is grateful Chandler
Regional was within a close proximity
to his home.
“We are just so happy he made
it,” Shakoor said. “Saving a life is an
incredible feat.”
The triumphant procedure is a
big leap for Chandler Regional, gaining
one extremely pleased patient—and
the promise of more such lifesaving
opportunities—in the process.
“I feel remarkably well and it’s all
because of these incredible people and
advanced technology,” Townley said.
“Looking at these tiny devices, it is
truly amazing what has been done. It’s
just so great to be here.”