First LVAD Patient in New Mexico is Doing Great Nearly Four Years Later

Arturo Madrid, 82, is doing exceptionally well after undergoing the first LVAD implant procedure performed in New Mexico at the Heart Hospital of New Mexico at Lovelace Medical Center on December 19, 2017.

Arturo and his wife Pilar waged a long and frustrating battle with Arturo’s deteriorating health to no avail until a patient referral led them to Albuquerque and the Heart Hospital of New Mexico at Lovelace Medical Center.

“Arturo was so weak,” said Pilar. “His heart wasn’t pumping fast enough to support his whole body, so he was retaining lots of fluid. Because he was retaining so much fluid he wasn’t eating anymore, to the point where I’d make him breakfast and he wouldn’t eat it, he couldn’t, he wasn’t hungry. He wouldn’t eat and he was very skinny by then.”

It’s at that point they became desperate and knew they needed to find some answers. So Pilar made an appointment with Mridula Rai, M.D. FACC with New Mexico Heart Institute/Lovelace Medical Group and the couple geared up for the five-hour drive to Albuquerque with hopes of finding answers and solutions to Arturo’s health condition.

At the first appointment, Dr. Rai identified Arturo as a candidate for their new LVAD procedure and referred him to New Mexico Heart Institute/Lovelace Medical Group cardiothoracic surgeon Dana A. Booth, MS, MD.

The Madrids had never heard of the left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implant that would ultimately save Arturo’s life. The device is implanted in the chest through open-heart surgery and assists in pumping blood from the left ventricle of the heart to the rest of the body. A harness or belt typically holds the external mechanics used to control the device and including a power source and power reserve.

“The device he has to wear is really not bad,” said Pilar. “He wears a harness that has two batteries that we connect and at night he takes the batteries off and we plug into a line so the batteries can recharge. The device is easy and portable, it’s kind of like carrying around a small backpack.”

Pilar was in awe of the progress Arturo made after the procedure and the freedoms he’s been able to regain physically.

“With the success of the surgery, they even told my husband he can play golf or go bowling or whatever else with this device,” said Pilar. “Undergoing the procedure at 78, he was ready to quit doing all those things anyway, but it’s incredible to know this device has created such a change in his health.”

When asked about his experience, Arturo has a similar sentiment.

“We’re so thankful this procedure was presented to us,” said Arturo. “I’ve been doing pretty good since the surgery and haven’t been hospitalized since, although I still visit the Heart Hospital of New Mexico every six months for a checkup with Dr. Faisal Zaeem.”

The journey that brought them here was heart-wrenching for Pilar and Arturo, but the success of the surgery is something they’re grateful for every day.

“You can see what a different person he is now,” said Pilar. “Watching him almost wither away, it was really sad to see. His organs started shutting down, he was really getting ready to go. And now, after the procedure, he’s fine – he’s healthy.”

To learn more about the types of procedures performed at the Heart Hospital of New Mexico, visit