Pediatric Heart

At UF Health, our multidisciplinary team approach is equipped to handle heart, lung, and heart-lung transplantation procedures for pediatric patients.

Us News and report National Badge - pediatric cardiology and heart surgery

UF Health Shands Hospital ranked one of the nation's and region's top hospitals for
Pediatric Cardiology & Heart Surgery by U.S. News & World Report.

Heart Transplantation

As Florida’s first pediatric heart transplant program, UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital has been at the forefront of pediatric heart transplantation for more than 25 years. The program’s purpose is to restore the health and quality of life to children suffering from end-stage heart and lung disease.

We performed Florida’s first pediatric heart transplant on October 1, 1986. Then, seven years later, in 1993 we performed the first infant heart transplant in the state of Florida. Other firsts include performing the state’s first pediatric lung transplant in 1996, the first pediatric heart/kidney transplant in 1994, the first pediatric heart/lung transplant in 1999, and the first use of the Berlin VAD in 2006. As of June 2018, we have performed 265 pediatric heart transplants, making us one of the highest volume centers in Florida.

The pediatric heart transplant program at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital evaluates infants, children and adolescents with end-stage heart disease who are potential candidates for heart transplantation. We are the transplant referral center for the most complex patients in and around the state of Florida.  Our pediatric cardiologists and congenital heart surgeons have pioneered heart transplantation in high risk patients who are not offered transplantation at other centers. The majority of our referrals are for patients with complex congenital heart disease with the remainder done in patients with cardiomyopathy who have failed maximal medical therapy.

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 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.

Lung and Heart-Lung Transplantation

The UF Health Pediatric Lung Transplant Program is the only one of its kind in Florida and is under the medical direction of Michael Tsifansky, MD, the only pediatric lung transplant physician in the United States who has completed formal training in pediatric pulmonology, pediatric critical care medicine and pediatric cardiac critical care medicine. Our multidisciplinary team of clinicians consists of one cardiothoracic surgeon, one thoracic surgeon, one pediatric transplant pulmonologist, one pulmonologist and four nurse practitioners.

At UF Health, we offer unique medical approaches, such as lung reduction surgery, to treat children with life-threatening lung disease. Our mission is simple: to enhance each patient’s quality of life through compassionate care, access to state-of-the-art medical treatment and ongoing research studies at UF Health.

In 2013, the UF pediatric lung transplant team performed the first heart-lung transplant in a child under the age of two in the state of Florida.

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