The Pediatric Heart Transplant Program is one of the most active in the United States with 75% of referrals coming from outside the metropolitan St. Louis area. Since the program began in 1986, more than 380 patients – ranging in age from 3 days to 22 years – have received heart transplants.

The most common reasons for heart transplantation in pediatric patients are congenital heart defects and cardiomyopathy, which once robbed infants and children of life. Defects such as hypoplastic left heart syndrome now are routinely treated through heart transplantation. Washington University pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, who first offered transplant as a treatment alternative for hypoplastic left heart syndrome in 1989, have performed more than 55 transplants for the defect.

After transplant, both infants and older pediatric patients exhibit normal developmental levels for their ages. Most children attend school and participate in a variety of normal childhood activities.

A team of cardiothoracic surgeons, anesthesiologists, cardiologists, nurse clinicians, nursing staff members, social workers and therapists works together with the family to prepare for the transplant, to keep the patient in optimal health while waiting for an organ and to rebuild the patient’s health and strength following the transplant.

The transplant team works with a strong network of cardiologists throughout the region who are familiar with transplant follow-up care. The goal is to return pediatric transplant patients to their local cardiologists in order to facilitate a team approach for continued care. Frequent contact between the transplant team and the local cardiologist ensures continued communication about the patient’s progress and treatment plan.

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Pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons