500th Heart Transplant Performed at Children's Hospital Colorado

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The Heart Institute at Children's Hospital Colorado (Children's Colorado) has performed its 500th pediatric heart transplant, a milestone that only a few centers across the country have reached. The new benchmark is a tribute to the many families who have entrusted Children's Colorado with their care and the multidisciplinary team of caregivers who are committed to ensuring the best possible outcomes.

"From our first transplant patient more than 30 years ago to our 500th this year and every patient in between, the entire team at the Heart Institute has been honored to help so many families," shared Melanie Everitt, MD, cardiologist and medical director of the pediatric heart transplant program at Children's Colorado. "This milestone speaks to the breadth and depth of our team's experience, which allows us to treat the most complex cases that other hospitals may turn down, while still achieving excellent outcomes."

According to national comparison data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients the survival outcomes at the Heart Institute at Children's Colorado after heart surgery are consistently better than the national average, and the hospital's average time to heart transplant is lower.

The 1-year patient survival rate

  • Children's Colorado: 96%
  • National: 91.37%

The 3-year patient survival rate

  • Children's Colorado: 95.83%
  • National: 88.61%

Median time to heart transplant

  • Children's Colorado: 2.7 months
  • Region: 5.0 months
  • National: 5.5 months

"When pediatric hospitals began performing heart transplants in the 1980s, the focus was solely on survival," said Dr. Everitt. "But now, thanks to multidisciplinary teams such as the one at Children's Hospital Colorado, the focus includes getting children back home and returning to normal childhood life as soon as possible."

The Heart Institute's multidisciplinary team focuses on more than a patient's physical needs. The team, which includes not only pediatric and adult congenital cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons and interventionists, pulmonologists, pharmacists, transplant coordinators, and cardiac care nurses but also psychologists, dieticians, physical and occupational therapists, social workers, child life specialists, and chaplains, attend to every aspect of their patient's wellbeing, including their mental, emotional and spiritual needs. 

"It is important to keep in mind that none of this would be possible without families who are willing to make this precious gift," said Matt Stone, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon and surgical director of the pediatric heart transplant program at Children's Colorado. "There is a very special donor at the center of every heart transplant, and we are thankful for each and everyone."

Children's Hospital Colorado coordinates all of its heart transplant procedures with the help of Donor Alliance.

"Every patient we've served has meant the world to us, and we're grateful for the opportunity to provide care to the children and families in our program," said Dave Campbell, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon and former director of the pediatric heart transplant program.

Children's Colorado is home to the only pediatric transplant center in the state and one of just a few in the entire Rocky Mountain region. When the hospital's pediatric patients reach adulthood, they transition to Children's Hospital Colorado's Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program, a joint program with UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, also located on the Anschutz Medical Campus.

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