Pediatric heart transplantation is safe and can even be performed on infants with otherwise lethal cardiac conditions. Most patients are able to recover and return to society in a productive manner.
Congenital heart defects that could be considered for transplantation include:
- Hypoplastic left heart syndrome
- Single ventricle with hypoplasia of the aortic outflow tract
- Atrioventricular canal defect
- Truncus arteriosus
Hypoplastic left heart syndrome accounts for one to two percent of all congenital heart disease and is the most common cause of death from a cardiac defect during the first month of life. These infants can benefit from an infant heart transplant program.
Transplantation is the only treatment that offers hope to infants with irreversible cardiomyopathies. Currently, the indication for the vast majority of pediatric heart recipients over the age of one year is cardiomyopathy.
Infant transplant patients are evaluated in the neonatal intensive care unit or pediatric intensive care unit at UF Health Shands Hospital. Once accepted for transplantation, the infant remains at UF Health Shands Hospital until transplantation. Infants are at significant risk of rejection, infection and developing accelerated coronary artery disease after heart transplantation.
Infants receive endomyocardial biopsies at regular intervals to check for rejection. Older children and adults receive endomyocardial biopsies more frequently than infants.
Families must stay within one hour's driving distance from the hospital for the first two to four months following transplantation due to the frequency and complexity of outpatient visits. Transplant housing is available for families who live more than one hour from UF Health Shands Hospital.