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Harriett D. Caregiver

Sterile dressing changes

How long does it typically take to do this process correctly?  I have different nurses telling me different procedure steps!  I’m so frustrated!  How many times must you have completed the correct sterile protocol before you can be released from the hospital?

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Mike D.

Hi Harriet 

The process can be overwhelming at first but becomes easier as time goes on. My husband's LVAD team went over the procedure with me a couple times  and left it to me when I felt comfortable on my own.  It only takes a five or 10 minutes to change dressing. just celebrated 1year LVAD surgery and is doing well. We change his dressing about every 5 days. All materials are mailed to us directly. Best of luck to you!

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Diane B.

Hi Harriett 

The answer will vary. I see Mike says 5 to 10 minutes, but with the technique I was taught beginning to end closer to 45 minutes using sterile technique. Our center has us do it everyday but my husband has extremely sensitive skin and allergic to most tapes so I go slower and now we are testing every other day to lessen skin irritation. . Your LVAD coordinator should be able to answer your questions. If it is ward nurses I would take it with a grain of salt if it is not what LVAD team showed you. You want to be totally sure you know the proper procedure because you do not want to get a driveline infection. Are you doing the dressings yourself yet with nurse supervising?

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Harriett D.

Yes it was floor nurses.  Thank heaven I have it now and I’m comfortable.  LVAD coordinator’s reply to this question was the floor nurses should be doing the same way each time!  The directions that are enclosed with the sterile dressing kit was helpful.  Especially with a nurse who seemed to have her own ideas.  Once I pointed out the enclosed directions she agreed & backed off.  

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In reply to by Harriett D.

Diane B.

Unfortunately there is always 1 or 2 that buck the system. Glad you have a handle on it. It can be pretty scary the first few days at home. The main thing is not to panic and follow the instructions. You will be a pro in no time at all. Never hesitate to call VAD Coordinator if necessary. Good luck !


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Tawanda C.

Hello everyone, 

My name is Tawanda and I am 36 years old. I’ve been living with a pacemaker for 3 years, I’ve been shocked by it about 4 or 5 times. I am scheduled to get the LVAD September 30,2021 and I am scared out of my mind. I have heard some people with the LVAD talking about fainting or blacking out. Has anyone experienced that?? And does anyone still drive themselves after getting the LVAD? And lastly does anyone live alone?

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I certainly understand your fears - it is a overwhelming but has been well worth it for my husband,  He had a pacemaker and his defibrillator went off several times which was terrifying.  Since he had the LVAD implanted 11/2/2018, it has never gone off.  The first several months are rough because your body was weak and has been through very major surgery, so it would be helpful if you could ask family or friends to stop by to help you take a sponge bath etc. and do your shopping and drop off a few meals a week.  Of course, online shopping is much easier now also. The first month, we had a more complicated dressing change (due to drainage) so that would also be great of a caregiver could be trained.  After that first month, my husband was able to do the dressing change but it is faster when I do it.   

Best wishes for a very success surgery.  We are VERY grateful for the life the LVAD has provided - very close to normal.

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James J.


I have a BiV pacemaker/ICD. My experience after getting my LVAD May, 20, 2019 was that it was sensitive to my heart rate/tachycardia and shocked me quite a few times. I always say the right ventricle wasn’t happy with the left. It took time for the cardiologists(several) to work things out. I’m just fine two years+ out.

James Justus

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Neil W.

Hi Tawanda my name is Neil.

I've had an LVAD for about 6 months now and can say without hesitation it was worth it!

I live in my brother's basement but basically I'm alone for most of the day.It takes a little time to get use to the regular day to day routine of having an LVAD (pills,dressing all that sort of stuff) but it soon becomes second nature. 

I had a great deal of doubt before the surgery. I knew I would have to stay at a friends place for the first 3 months which made me a little uncomfortable.

But, again, it was worth it. I can now walk far further and I'm far more active than i've been in at least the last 5 years. My surgery was done at Toronto General Hospital and their pre and post surgery care was spectacular. Other than a small hiccup with fluid around my heart after surgery everything went fine.

So far I've had no issues with bleeding or infection or any real pain.Yes,  the first 3 months or so are rough but you WILL get through it and it's well worth it