The Pierce-Donachy ventricular assist device (VAD) was used as an attempted bridge to orthotopic cardiac transplantation in 12 patients aged 13 to 55 years. Ischemic (4 patients), dilated (4 patients), acute viral (1 patient), postpartum (1 patient), and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (1 patient), along with a failed transplant (1 patient), were the causative factors of end-stage cardiomyopathy in these patients. All patients were candidates for orthotopic cardiac transplantation but sustained refractory cardiogenic shock (cardiac index less than 2 L/min/m2). Left VADs were placed in all patients; 7 also required right VADs. Four patients died of hemorrhagic complications less than 24 hours after VAD insertion. Ventricular assist device stabilization was successful in 8 patients and support ranged from eight hours to 64 days. Seven patients successfully underwent orthotopic cardiac transplantation. One died postoperatively of hemorrhagic complications, 6 were discharged from the hospital, and 1 patient died at 3 months of cytomegalovirus infection. Five patients are long-term survivors. The Pierce-Donachy VAD is an effective means for supporting critically ill patients with end-stage cardiomyopathy and cardiogenic shock before orthotopic cardiac transplantation. Death is related to hemorrhagic, rather than infectious or thromboembolic, complications. Patients successfully stabilized with the VAD can undergo orthotopic cardiac transplantation with acceptable mortality and morbidity rates.