Center for Advanced Practice


Maternal experiences of caring for a child with a ventricular assist device.

Publication Title

Pediatric transplantation

Document Type


PubMed ID



The purpose of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of maternal experiences of caring for their child with a VAD at home as a bridge to transplant. A descriptive, qualitative study was conducted via telephone-recorded guided interviews. Participants were caring for or had a child with a VAD between 4 and 16 years old. Data collection occurred over a 12-month period. Using the snowball sampling technique, a purposeful sample of mothers (n = 6) was consented and completed the interview. The data were analyzed using an iterative process of thematic analysis. Five themes emerged: physical modifications, the loss of independence, the emotional rollercoaster, support from others, and transitions on and off the device. We introduced new evidence about sleep, contraception, and heart transplantation, and how VAD therapy impacts childhood development. The mean duration of VAD support was 263 ± 170 days. Five children had heart transplants by the time of interview. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first qualitative study in the US that explores maternal experiences of caring for a child who is living at home with a VAD. VAD therapy is a novel approach to managing advanced heart failure among children and presents unique challenges when caring for them at home. Results provide insight into the education, physical environment, and support needed by parents.


Adolescent, Adult, Caregivers, Child, Child, Preschool, Female, Heart Failure, Heart Transplantation, Heart-Assist Devices, Humans, Interviews as Topic, Male, Middle Aged, Mothers, Qualitative Research



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