Supporting Your Child's Heart
If your child's heart is not strong enough to function effectively, we may offer other treatments to support that function while your child's heart heals or while your child waits for a heart transplant. These treatments include:
Mechanical Assist Devices
Our heart surgeons are at the forefront of developing and designing ventricular assist devices for infants and small children as a bridge to recovery or transplantation.
- Leaders in research into alternatives for transplants, we were among the first in the United States to implant a Berlin Heart EXCOR heart pump into a newborn.
- We currently use a variety of devices to help right, left, or biventricular heart failure in patients from infants to young adults.
- Notably, we have the largest pediatric experience in the U.S. with the PediMag (Levitronix) device.
Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)
ECMO is a short-term device to support the heart and lungs in very young patients, or in children whose anatomy will not permit a ventricular assist device. Our physicians participated in the earliest development of ECMO, making our facility one of the first in the world to use this life-saving technology successfully in children.
Who Is a Candidate for a Heart Transplant
Children who are considered candidates for a heart transplant usually:
- Have hearts that are so weak or diseased that the flow of blood throughout the body is dangerously low. When the heart does not pump blood well, too little oxygen circulates in the child's body. Without oxygen, tissues and organs may be damaged.
- Have very complex congenital heart disease that is not correctable with surgery.
- Have dangerous heart rhythms that compromise the amount of blood entering and/or leaving the heart.
- Have little ability to enjoy or participate in ordinary childhood activities, including playing sports, visiting friends, or even attending school.
- Have trouble keeping up with their schoolmates or siblings. They are often much smaller than other children their age. Infants may exhibit developmental delays in sitting, crawling, and standing; they are often very poor feeders.
- May have been well all their lives and only recently became severely ill with acute myocarditis or cardiomyopathy.