- Associated Press - Friday, December 16, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health regulators have approved the first heart pump for children with heart failure, offering an important treatment option for patients who are too small to receive adult implants.

The Food and Drug Administration says the device from Berlin Heart will be used to keep children alive until they can receive a heart transplant. Very few medical devices are designed specifically for children, posing major challenges to doctors and surgeons who treat pediatric cases of life-threatening diseases.

Heart failure is rare in children. Among infants, the normal wait time for a heart transplant is more than four months. Nearly a quarter of all infants die while waiting for a transplant, according to the FDA.

The Excor heart device comes in various sizes to accommodate patients from infants to teenagers.

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