Pediatric heart surgery: Approach to Care

At the UF Health Congenital Heart Center, we believe collaboration, communication and a commitment to quality improvement are keys to our excellent outcomes and enhanced quality of life for our patients and their families.


At the UF Health Congenital Heart Center, our team provides a full range of services, including:

Baby Jim Beau was successfully treated for his  congenital heart defect and his congenital diaphragmatic  hernia in a coordinated, collaborative effort among  pediatric specialists at UF Health Shands Children's Hospital.  Today he is a thriving toddler.

  • Congenital heart surgery
  • Heart and heart-lung transplantation
  • Adult congenital cardiology
  • Ventricular-assist device implants
  • Transplant cardiology
  • Pediatric cardiac intensive care
  • Fetal cardiology
  • Heart failure
  • Cardiomyopathies
  • Noninvasive cardiac imaging
  • Invasive electrophysiology
  • Interventional cardiology

Our team also includes dedicated pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists, pediatric cardiac perfusionists, pediatric cardiac critical care physicians and nurses; and physical, respiratory, occupational and speech therapists trained in pediatric cardiac care.

UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital

UF Health Shands Children's HospitalAt UF Health, our center uses a multidisciplinary approach to patient care that encompasses the resources we have through the renowned UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. We collaborate among our pediatric heart specialists and routinely team up with pediatric specialists in the areas of obstetrics, neonatology, genetics, hematology, pharmacology, endocrinology, neurology, gastroenterology, pulmonology and other pediatric medical specialties. As part of a world-class academic health center, we also have opportunities for research and access to innovative technologies in congenital heart care.

As an integral part of UF Health Shands Children's Hospital, our center’s patients and their families can access many helpful resources, including our Child Life Program; social workers; Streetlight, for hospitalized adolescents; and Shands Arts in Medicine.

Range of Services

At the UF Health Congenital Heart Center, our physicians provide a full range of congenital heart services to patients of all ages. Highlights of our program includes:

  • Only center in Florida providing congenital cardiology for patients of all ages.
  • Largest heart/heart-lung transplant and transplant cardiology program in Florida and greater Southeastern United States
  • Strong ventricular-assist device (Berlin Heart, ECMO), and synthetic heart implants
  • Only hospital in Florida certified to implant the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart®
  • Fetal cardiology, including interstage monitoring
  • Interventional cardiology, including Melody valve placement
  • Center of Excellence for advanced, noninvasive cardiac imaging, including cardiac MRI/MRA, cardiac CT, echocardiography, and transesophageal echocardiography
  • Largest adult congenital cardiology program in Florida telemedicine consultations for echocardiography imaging
  • Full listing of clinical services at the UF Health Congenital Heart Center.

Surgical Services

Ranked No. 29 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top pediatric cardiology and heart surgery programs in the country, the UF Health Congenital Heart Center has the most complex case mix of all Florida congenital heart programs, caring for some of the sickest children in the Southeastern United States.

UF Health Shands Children's Hospital roomOur team of cardiovascular surgeons perform almost 300 congenital heart cases each year at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, from straightforward atrial septal defect closures, to complex operations such as the arterial switch, to high-risk surgeries such as the Norwood.

Our surgeons are recognized for their expertise in treating:

  • Newborns, including premature and low-birth-weight babies
  • Complex, single-ventricle defects
  • Heart failure and transplantation, including ventricular-assist devices such as the Berlin Heart and SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart®
  • Valve procedures, including replacements and valve-sparing repairs

Inpatient Services

The UF Health Congenital Heart Center provides inpatient services for those patients who need inpatient care.

For a full listing of inpatient services visit the the UF Health Congenital Heart Center page.

Facilities and After-Hours

Fricker and Hammy - OutcomesOur facilities are located on the UF Health campus in Gainesville, Florida, and are easily accessed from I-75. If you have multiple appointments, UF Health provides free transportation services to and from UF Health Shands Medical Plaza to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital.

At our pediatric cardiology specialty clinics, we’re able to perform numerous diagnostic tests, including transthoracic echocardiograms, fetal echocardiograms, cardiac stress tests, perfusion scans, blood work and X-rays. On the children’s hospital campus, we conduct our cardiac MRIs and MRAs, cardiac CT scans, transesophageal echocardiograms, and diagnostic and interventional cardiac catheterizations.

In January 2014, we opened our state-of-the-art pediatric cardiac intensive cardiac unit, including advanced technologies and family-centered patient rooms. The unit also features The Sunshine Gym, where patients can go for physical, occupational and speech therapy, which promotes and improves preoperative health and postoperative recovery.

First in Florida: Leaders in Innovation

As the first in Florida to establish a pediatric heart transplant program, UF Health and the UF Health Congenital Heart Center have also been the first in Florida to perform the following procedures:

  • Pediatric heart transplant, 1986
  • Infant heart transplant, 1993
  • Pediatric heart/kidney transplant, 1994
  • Pediatric lung transplant, 1996
  • Pediatric heart/lung transplant, 1999
  • Double-lung transplant in youngest infant, 2002
  • Berlin Heart implant as bridge to transplant, 2006 (CHC contributed to data collection that resulted in FDA approval in the fall of 2011)
  • Heart/lung transplant in youngest infant, 2013
  • SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart® implant, 2013
  • SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart® implant with portable Freedom drive in youngest patient in the world, 2014


The UF Health Congenital Heart Center (please hyperlink to takes care of some of the sickest children in Florida and the southeastern United States, and we have excellent outcomes.

At UF Health, the center’s overall operative survival rates – averaging all Society of Thoracic Surgeons - European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery Congenital Heart Surgery Mortality Categories – are above national average. During the period of January 2010 to December 2013, our survival rate was 98 percent; the national rate was 96.5 percent.

For more information on quality and outcomes at the UF Health Congenital Heart Center.

Have a Question or Would Like More Information?

Learning your child has a congenital heart defect is frightening. Finding the best care is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make, and it can be overwhelming and confusing. If you have a question that’s not answered here, please feel free to contact us via email or by calling 352.273.7770, or toll-free at 866.696.2333.

Patient and Family Resources

As an integral part of UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital (keep hyperlink), our center’s patients and their families can access many helpful resources, including: