updated 4/13/2004 12:37:31 PM ET 2004-04-13T16:37:31

A 6-year-old Houston girl who became the first patient in the world to receive a DeBakey child heart pump has died.

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Anna Grudziecke died Sunday at Texas Children’s Hospital, according to her physician, Dr. Charles D. Fraser Jr. She received the pump late last month.

Although it didn’t keep Grudziecke alive long enough to receive a transplant, Fraser said he still believes the child-sized pump holds much promise for youngsters with failing hearts.

“This experience with the device has left us emboldened about using it going forward,” Fraser said in a story in Monday night’s online edition of the Houston Chronicle.

The DeBakey ventricular assist device for children helps weakened hearts pump blood throughout the patient’s body by supplementing the pumping ability of the left ventricle, the main pumping chamber of the heart.

Grudziecke's heart muscle had thickened, causing it to stiffen and deteriorate.

Adult patients have survived for more than a year with the DeBakey heart pump. It has been implanted into more than 200 patients.

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