What We Treat

Conditions that may lead to heart failure

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Congenital heart disease 

Learn how the heart works

Services We Offer

Heart transplant process and waitlist

The Children's Carlos and Marguerite Mason Transplant Center provides full pre- and posttransplant services for children in need of a heart transplant.

Pre-transplant evaluation

Before your child is approved for a pediatric heart transplant, he will undergo a pre-transplant evaluation—a series of tests that may include a routine medical exam, blood tests, imaging tests, breathing tests and other evaluations.

If the child, family and heart transplant team decide that a pediatric heart transplant is needed, the next step is to place the child on the waitlist for a donor heart.

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is the national agency that oversees organ transplantation. This agency works with our local procurement agency, LifeLink of Georgia, to recover organs. UNOS also maintains the national computerized list of people waiting for heart transplants.

Learn more about UNOS

Learn more about LifeLink

Waitlist levels and donor process

Once a decision has been made to move forward with a heart transplant, the heart transplant coordinator will place the child on the heart transplant waiting list through the UNOS secure website. The child will be listed as a status 1A, status 1B, status 2 or status 7.

Status 1A: The patient must meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • Needs help breathing with a ventilator
  • Needs support with a mechanical device such as ECMO or ventricular assist device
  • Is less than six months old with heart diseases and needs continuous prostaglandins (PGE)
  • Needs certain IV medications, knows as inotropes, at a high dose or more than one
  • Is expected to live less than 14 days without a heart transplant

Status 1B: The patient must meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • Needs I.V. medicine, known as inotropes, at a low dose
  • Is less than 6 months old and does not meet 1A criteria
  • Cannot grow at a certain rate

Status 2: A patient is requiring a heart transplant but does not meet the criteria for Status 1A or 1B.

Status 7: A patient is inactive on the transplant list. For example, he is too sick or too healthy to accept an organ.

The donor process

  1. A heart is donated from someone who has been declared brain dead and whose family has agreed to organ donation
  2. The donor's medical information is entered into the UNOS database
  3. UNOS notifies Children's that a heart is available
  4. The transplant surgeon and team review to determine whether or not to accept or decline the organ. This is based on whether or not the heart is a good match for your child
  5. The transplant coordinator contacts you when a heart that is a good match for your child is available

What to expect after your child's heart transplant

Patient matching process

The UNOS list has a pool of patients who are waiting for a heart donation. When a heart is available, UNOS searches their entire pool for a potential match.

Factors involved with matching include:

  • Location of the heart and the child
  • Amount of time the child has been on the waiting list
  • Size of the child
  • Status of the child
  • Blood type: your child can receive a heart from someone with the same or compatible blood while infants may be eligible to receive any blood type due to their immature immune system

What can I learn about the donor?

Families often want to know the age of the donor and how the donor died. Information about the donor cannot be shared. Likewise, information about the heart transplant recipient and his family will not be given to the donor's family without consent.

LifeLink will contact the donor family to let them know which organs were successfully transplanted. If the transplant recipient's family gives permission, we will give LifeLink a small amount of nonidentifying information about the child as they strongly believe that following up helps the donor family move forward as they grieve the death of their child.

If families wish, they can write a letter to the donor's family that does not include identifying information. The Children's heart transplant coordinator will send the letter to LifeLink of Georgia, which will forward it to the donor family.

Learn more about LifeLink

Innovative research

In conjunction with Emory University School of Medicine, our heart transplant team is committed to excellence and innovation in pediatric heart transplant research. We are devoted to developing new and better preventive, diagnostic services and treatments through research.

Learn more about research at Children's

Our Unique Approach

Why choose Children's?

Children's is home to one of the largest pediatric heart transplant programs in the country. Combining the latest proven technology and research with a caring, child-friendly approach, makes Children's a top choice for pediatric heart transplantation. 

Learn more about what makes Children's special

Meet the Team

Heart transplant team

Led by Kirk Kanter, M.D., Director, and William Mahle, M.D., Medical Director, the Children's Heart Transplant team is dedicated to caring for infants, children and young adults before, during and after pediatric heart transplantation. Our team includes the following pediatric cardiologists and heart transplant surgeons:

Helpful Resources

Transplant camps, events and support groups

Family involvement is a crucial part of recovery. That's why we offer programs and events that involve the entire family.

Learn more and get involved

Family support services

Transplant patients and their families have basic and extraordinary mental, physical, emotional and spiritual needs, and Children's has many services available to meet them.

Learn more about what you can expect during your stay

Learn more about financial and insurance resources

Transitional housing

Many families travel great distances to Children's for transplantation. To meet the needs of those families, we offer transitional or temporary housing options that have been carefully chosen for safety, cleanliness, amenities and proximity. The housing options for transplant patients include the Mason Guest House and the Ronald McDonald House near Egleston.

Learn more about our temporary housing options, transportation for out-of-town patients and amenities