Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Texas Medical Center recently hosted a luncheon for a very special group of former patients – their “LVAD Ladies,” or women living with a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD). The purpose of the luncheon was to empower the women to feel bold and beautiful with special glamour and fashion tips designed uniquely for LVAD users.
The LVAD is a mechanical pump worn outside the body that helps the heart deliver blood to the rest of the body. An artificial heart is a complete replacement, whereas the LVAD is a supportive device that helps a heart weakened by heart disease. The device may be life-saving, however the LVAD presents unique challenges to the patient’s wardrobe. Someone with an LVAD must carry a small computer controller and power pack outside of the body at all times, and many patients carry the external unit in a purse or on a belt or harness.
At the luncheon hosted by the Institute, guest speaker Chiara Colombi, PhD, fashion expert and lecturer at the University of Houston and Milano Universidad in Milan, Italy, shared fashion tips on how to wear an LVAD and still feel stylish and sophisticated. Some of the trends Dr. Colombi showed included dresses that discreetly cover the LVAD power pack, as well as outfits with large pockets where the power pack could be stored. She also included modern designs for bags and purses that could help disguise the pack.
After the presentation, the the Institute staff surprised the LVAD Ladies with gifts that included make-up and other beauty accessories. In addition, the women were able to exchange their personal tips and methods for masking the LVAD device based on their own experiences.