A heart transplant is a major surgery in which your child’s heart is replaced with a healthier, donor heart. If your child’s treatment involves a heart transplant, it may be comforting to know that roughly 80 percent of our heart transplant patients survive five years or more.
University of Minnesota Health surgeons perform 20 to 30 heart transplants annually in children and adults, making our program among the top 15 percent in the United States.Our surgeons have been pioneers in heart transplant surgeries. We performed the world’s first heart transplant on an infant, the first heart transplant in Minnesota and the first stage 1 hybrid Norwood procedure in the Upper Midwest. Our program is also one of the longest running programs in the world. We have performed more than 800 heart transplants, including over 100 children, the youngest of whom was 1 month old.
We also are one of only 22 transplant programs in the United States and the only program in the Twin Cities metro area approved to implant the Berlin Heart® mechanical assist device into children. This device pumps blood to a child’s body, keeping the child alive while waiting for a transplant. In conjunction with our adult heart failure and transplant program, we also offer other types of mechanical assist devices that can be used in older children, adolescents and adults with congenital heart disease, allowing us to be able to support children from infancy through adulthood while they await a transplant.
When you come to us for a heart transplant for your child, we will establish a multidisciplinary team to work with your family. This team includes a coordinator, cardiologist, surgeon, neuropsychologist, social worker, pharmacist, financial counselor, and dietitian. Our goal is to allow your child to be at home while awaiting transplant. However, if this cannot happen, we do have many additional services available to you, including housing, transportation and emotional support for you and your family. Most of our patients leave the hospital fewer than two weeks after their transplant.
Our physicians are on the forefront of research into new treatment options. They are involved in many clinical trials testing heart failure treatments and ventricular assist devices. Through participation in a clinical trial, your child will have access to the latest therapies in development. After transplant surgery, we can support your child with long-term follow-up care and survivorship studies.
Our pioneering research has dramatically improved survival rates of heart transplant patients and helped enhance their quality of life after transplant.