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Rob H. Prospective Patient

Transplant v. Lvad - SCUBA diving

I am starting the transplant process. It has been recommended to me to avoid an Lvad at all cost. My condition is such that even an Lvad is only delaying the transplant and adding several surgeries. The transplant clinic has floated the idea, but it's too early in the process for anyone to pick a path yet. My question is, I am extremely active outdoors. Including SCUBA diving. Does anyone have any experience SCUBA diving with an Lvad? Alls I get from doctors is, "we will talk later about that"
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Bob B.

Hi - sorry, but with an LVAD (Heartmate II or III) you cannot be submersed in water or partake in swimming of any kind. I've had mine 4.5 years now and really miss the water. You will have a driveline exiting your abdomen that you need to keep dry and protect from infection, and a computer controller and batteries external to your body. I have heard they are working on an LVAD that is completely inside you with wirelessly charged batteries. When, and if that ever becomes a reality, then it's likely swimming could happen in my opinion but I'm not a doctor, just an experienced patient. You haven't shared your particular circumstances, but agree the LVAD is a personal choice and the surgery, like any open heart surgery is significant. Good luck to you!
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Not sure who you are talking to but as a FORMER scuba diver, I can tell that with an LVAD, you CANNOT SUBMERGE IN WATER. No bathing, no swimming. Showering using special bag to contain batteries and computer. If you can hold out for transplant, DO. I am not a candidate for transplant, so am living with restrictions.
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Larrie T.

I may be the first. I have scuba dived with a Heartmate II in a drysuit. But what so far has just been a single pool dive under highly controlled conditions was eight months in the planning and involved a 12-person team from both the dive safety and medical communities. This is not ready for the general public, but it can and has been done. There are dive training agencies who specialize in bringing the sport of scuba to divers with moderate to severe disabilities, who someday may work alongside your own VAD/MCS medical team, sharing expertise to make this safer and, under the right circumstances, possible. My scuba dive required a significant amount of previous dive experience and the construction of some specialized equipment inside the drysuit to monitor for leakage. We have not even begun to research safe limits for open water diving but I hope to do that in the coming months. So, it ain't easy but it may be possible. I was amused by the comment from your doctor: "We will talk later about that." I got virtually the same thing! But I kept talking and doing and working hard at my recovery and, with the support of a whole bunch of great people, we made it happen! If you're interested in the entire eight month journey, we documented it. You can see it here:
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In reply to by Larrie T.

Harry S. T.

Hi Larrie,

For scuba diving you are probably the first :). I started something similar in 2016 with a taylormade drysuit which was cut as a "shorty". My intention was rather swimming than diving with my HeartWare LVAD, but in early 2017 I "apnoe dived" (less than 10 seconds) with this suit 3m deep in Lanzarote and in Egypt open water. As soon as I get more familiar wth this forum, I may publish a video or a photo to proof that :)

I envy you having a team of 12 supporters. You're doing your tests probably much more save than I did. Anyway, we should warn other readers, that this is a high risk activity ...

Regarding the depth I'm afraid that 2 - 3 m are the absolute limit. The controller under the drysuit is filled with air and will be crushed by the water pressure if you go deeper. (Perhaps a camera housing for divers would do ...)

Regards Clouseau


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Gene C.

Like me, you may have noticed that the adhesives are different when you remove the dressings to change them, based on the adhesive residues on your skin.  The adhesive left from the Foley anchor is more dense, and easier to remove IF you first do this...  with your gloved thumb, rub at the adhesive and it will start to move. Keep on rubbing until its gone! Use sterile gauze to remove it  (little ball shapes) from the skin. Its now much easier to use the adhesive remover where really needed.