WVU Medicine has built one of the finest cardiac surgery programs in the United States, and did so by recruiting several leading cardiac surgeons from some of the most notable academic medical centers in the world.

Their commitment to our patients is to work closely with them and their families to develop a comprehensive treatment plan, one that is grounded in trust and open communications, and built on the notion that every patient deserves a compassionate care team whose only focus is to care for that patient and provide them the best outcome possible.

Surgical Services

Our cardiac surgeons offer a wide range of services – everything from mitral valve repair to cardiac bypasses. Specific surgeries include:

  • Aortic surgery
  • Atrial fibrillation surgery (AFib)
  • Bypass surgery
  • Congenital heart surgery
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy surgery – septal myectomy
  • Heart failure surgery – left ventricular assist devices, left ventricular reconstruction
  • Heart transplant
  • Valve surgery

Our surgeons also use the most advanced procedures, including minimally invasive cardiac surgery, robotic-assisted cardiac surgery, transcatheter valve procedures (including Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement – TAVR), and percutaneous mitral valve treatments. The cardiac surgery team also is on the forefront of using new technologies, procedures, and treatments for cardiac patients.

In October of 2016, the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute perform the first minimally invasive procedure to implant the Tendyne Bioprosthetic Mitral Valve to combat mitral regurgitation (MR). The Institute is one of only 25 institutions worldwide chosen to participate in the clinical trial of this device.

Additionally, the cardiac surgery team was first in the state to:

  • First and only center in West Virginia to offer heart transplant – Patients no longer need to leave the state for this life-saving therapy.
  • Implant a left ventricular assist device (LVAD)
  • Use ProTek Duo RVAD for isolated RV failure
  • Repair mitral valve robotically via right mini thoracotomy using the da Vinci® Surgical System
  • Implant the Tendyne Bioprosthetic Mitral Valve and the WATCHMAN™ Left Atrial Appendage Closure Device
  • Use the MitraClip® device for mitral regurgitation
  • Rebuild an aortic valve using the patient’s pericardium (Ozaki autologous pericardial AVR)
  • Fix a thoracic aortic aneurysm using the Relay PRO implant
  • Successfully perform the Protected TAVR with Sentinel cerebral embolic protection device
  • Become a nationally recognized Center of Excellence for Adult ECMO program with over 5,000 hours of accumulated ECMO time to date


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Contact Us

For an appointment, call 855-WVU-CARE (855-988-2273).

What is sudden cardiac death?

Sudden cardiac death (also known as sudden cardiac arrest) is most commonly caused by a rapid, erratic heart rhythm. If not treated, death occurs within minutes. Approximately 95% of people do not survive sudden cardiac death.

Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is different from a heart attack. A heart attack results when blood flow is blocked to part of the heart muscle. SCD occurs when the electrical impulses that control the heart’s rhythm speed up and/or become chaotic.

Who is at risk?

People who’ve been treated for heart attacks and chronic heart failure are at greatly increased risk for SCD. High-risk patients are defined as those who have an ejection fraction (the amount of blood ejected from the heart during each beat) of less than 35%. But SCD can—and does—happen in people who look and feel healthy and who have not been diagnosed with heart disease or other risk factors.

People who’ve been treated for heart attacks and congestive heart failure have a greater chance of sudden cardiac death (SCD) – death as a result of a chaotically beating heart. Many such patients don’t get the follow-up care they need to determine their risk for SCD. Dr. Robert Hull, a WVU Medicine electrophysiologist, discusses SCD to help people understand the issue.

How can you avoid SCD?

Heart doctors called electrophysiologists perform tests that show if a person is at increased risk. An implantable defibrillator device (ICD) can reduce the chance of SCD. The ICD monitors the heart for abnormal rhythms and delivers an electrical shock to restore the heart’s normal rhythm.

People who have been hospitalized for a coronary intervention (such as angioplasty), coronary bypass, or a newly diagnosed heart failure should be re-evaluated 90 days after they are discharged. A patient who has suffered a heart attack should be re-evaluated at 40 days. This delay gives the heart time to heal and can make preventive procedures safer. If the heart is still weak, an ICD may be needed to reduce the chance of sudden cardiac death.

What else can you do?

A heart-healthy lifestyle—regular exercise, avoiding smoking, eating a healthy diet, and staying at a healthy weight—can help reduce the risk of SCD and other heart disease. It also helps to treat conditions that contribute to heart problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

To learn more about sudden cardiac death, visit the American Heart Association’s Sudden Cardiac Death page.

WATCHMANWVU Heart and Vascular Institute cardiologists are the first physicians in the state to implant the WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure Implant, a new treatment for patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation. This therapy is the only treatment for patients who previously did not have an option to reduce the risk of stroke in atrial fibrillation.

Twenty percent of all strokes occur in patients with AF, and AF-related strokes are more frequently fatal and disabling. For patients with AF who are at risk for stroke but are unsuitable for blood thinners, the WATCHMAN implant is an alternative to reduce their risk of AF-related stroke. It closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots from forming in the LAA and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke is reduced and, over time, patients stop taking blood-thinning medication.

Implanting the WATCHMAN Device is a one-time procedure that usually lasts about an hour. Following the procedure, patients typically need to stay in the hospital for 24 hours.

Contact Us

For more information about Watchman or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, call 855-WVU-CARE (855-988-2273).

The Adult ECMO program at WVU Medicine – the only one of its kind in the state – is a nationally recognized Center of Excellence, providing the highest level of care and outcomes.

The WVU Heart and Vascular Institute was recognized with the ELSO Center of Excellence Silver Life Support Award from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) which recognizes those centers that demonstrate an exceptional commitment to evidence-based processes and quality measures, staff training and continuing education, patient satisfaction, and ongoing clinical care.

A designated Center of Excellence has demonstrated extraordinary achievement in the following three categories:

  1. Excellence in promoting the mission, activities, and vision of ELSO;
  2. Excellence in patient care by using the highest quality measures, processes, and structures based upon evidence; and
  3. Excellence in training, education, collaboration, and communication supporting ELSO guidelines that contribute to a healing environment for families, patients, and staff.

What is ECMO?

ECMO (Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) is a life-support machine used in patients with life-threatening heart and/or breathing problems. When the heart does not pump enough blood or the lungs do not provide enough oxygen, ECMO can be used to assist the heart and/or lungs while giving the body a chance to rest.

What does ECMO do?

  •  Helps the lungs get oxygen into the blood and removes carbon dioxide
  •  Helps the heart by pumping the blood to the organs and body

Types of ECMO:
VA (Veno-Arterial) ECMO, which gives full cardiac and respiratory support. The ECMO functions as the person’s heart and lungs and allows the organs to recover. VA ECMO is used for:

  • Cardiogenic shock
  • Post cardiotomy support
  • Myocarditis
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Pulmonary hypertension and right heart failure
  • Medication overdose
  • Bridge to transplant
  • Non-ischemic cardiomyopathy

VV (Veno-Venous) ECMO, which only supports the lungs, requiring the heart to be fully functional. The ECMO acts as the patient’s lungs and oxygenates the blood while the lungs are recovering. VV ECMO is used for:

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Acute respiratory failure
  • Pre lung transplant Trauma

How long can ECMO be used?
An ECMO machine can help save a life, but it is not a cure for any disease or injury. Typically, patients are on VV ECMO much longer than VA ECMO since it takes the lungs longer to recover. Patients awaiting transplant may also be on ECMO until organs become available. Many physicians try to get patients off ECMO as quickly as possible since ECMO does not come without risks. Some common risks from ECMO include:

  • Bleeding due to prolonged anticoagulation
  • Stroke or seizures
  • Blood clots
  • Swelling/edema
  • Kidney failure requiring dialysis
  • Limb ischemia

About the WVU Medicine Adult ECMO Care Team

The ECMO Air Response Transport Team is a group of specially trained surgeons, perfusionists, nurses, and specialists, who are able to transport critically ill patients. The team’s specially equipped aircraft includes a portable ECMO machine and other advanced equipment. The team can mobilize within two hours of transfer request and is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It has an accessible range of 119 nautical miles.

The WVU Medicine ECMO Ground Team remains available throughout the transfer process, helping manage real-time information while the ECMO Air Response Transport Team is en route

Adult ECMO Referral Process

Timing is critical, and it is important to know when ECMO is the right option for your patient. Any patient with severe hypoxia despite 100% oxygen is a candidate.

To arrange for patient transfer to our ECMO Program, call the Medical Access Referral System at 800-WVA-MARS (800-982-6277).

Specialized cardiothoracic surgeons trained in advanced respiratory failure and ECMO will quickly obtain a thorough history and offer management guidance in consultation with your team. The ECMO team rapidly evaluates the case to determine candidacy for ECMO or potential transfer without ECMO, when appropriate. If accepted, our access transfer team will send you a checklist to help prepare the patient for transfer while our mobile ECMO transport team is deployed to your hospital.

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Vinay Badhwar, MD, FACS, FACC


Executive Chair, WVU Heart & Vascular Institute; Gordon F. Murray Professor and Chair, Department of Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery, WVU SOM
J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, WVU Heart and Vascular Institute
View Profile855-WVU-CARE

Chris Cook, MD


Program Director of the Thoracic Surgery Residency Program, Division of Cardiac Surgery, Associate Professor
J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, WVU Heart and Vascular Institute
View Profile855-WVU-CARE

Jeremiah Hayanga, MD, MPH, FACS


Thoracic Surgeon
J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, WVU Heart and Vascular Institute
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Harold Roberts, MD


Co - Director of Program Integration for Advanced Cardiac Surgery, Division of Cardiac Surgery, Assistant Professor
J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, WVU Heart and Vascular Institute
View Profile855-WVU-CARE

Muhammad Salman, MD


Assistant Professor, Surgical Director of Advanced Heart Failure Program
J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, WVU Heart and Vascular Institute
View Profile855-WVU-CARE

Lawrence Wei, MD


Co-Director, Center for Aortic Surgery and Director, Center for Aortic Valve Disease; Associate Professor of Medicine
J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, WVU Heart and Vascular Institute
View Profile855-WVU-CARE