Pediatric Heart Transplantation

Connor and Dr. Vincent

heart transplant is an open-heart operation done for a pediatric patient when his own heart muscle becomes too weak to pump enough blood through his body. A heart transplant replaces the diseased heart with a donor heart. The donor heart works as a normal heart should—pumping blood to the body and lungs.

After all other life-saving treatments and procedures have been tried, a donor heart is placed in the child. The wait time for a donor heart varies—and is generally a longer wait for infants than for older children. Heart transplantation may be used for patients with severe congenital heart defects.

At Children’s, we research and strive to develop advances in pediatric heart transplant. Our cardiothoracic surgeons work hand-in-hand with the Heart Transplant team. Our pediatric cardiac team and child-centered care offer children and families the pediatric cardiac care they need.

  • One of the first pediatric hospitals to perform three heart transplants within 24 hours  
  • One of a few centers nationwide to perform more than 185 pediatric heart transplants

In addition, our innovative procedures attract regional and national referrals, such as:

  • Access to a ventricular assist device (L-VADS, R-VADS, BiVADs), which keeps the heart functioning while waiting for a heart transplant—a life-saving “bridge” to transplant
  • ABO-incompatible heart transplants, a transplant where the donor's blood type does not match the recipient's

Children’s support groups and therapy help children and their families cope with the life-changing transplants. Social workers, child life specialists and others help patients and families with the emotional and medical changes before and after the procedure.

Before the Transplant

A thorough evaluation is done before a child can be listed for a heart transplant. The evaluation includes:

After the Transplant

Medicine must be taken after a transplant to prevent rejection of the heart. Long-term follow-up care to monitor the heart is needed.