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On August 19, Children's Hospital Colorado celebrated 25 years of our Transplant Program. That means 217 liver, 251 kidney and 413 heart transplants. That's over 800 people who are living and healthy because of Children's Colorado care teams.
It takes a multidisciplinary team to care for children who are identified as transplant candidates. Children's Colorado specialists team up with each child's primary care physician and his or her caretakers to not only achieve the best possible outcomes, but also the best possible quality of life for that child. Surgeons, hepatologists, nephrologists, cardiologists, anesthesiologists, transplant nurse coordinators, social workers, psychologists, financial counselors, lab technicians, dietitians and radiologists are just some of our team members who care for patients and families during the transplant process.
"I think the most rewarding part (of being on a transplant care team) is that we often meet children who are so incredibly sick –they're often jaundiced, they're often malnourished and their livers are failing – and as we get them through the transplant process, they morph back into normal, healthy children who laugh and play and enjoy every little piece of life," said Shikha Sundaram, MD, Medical Director of Children's Colorado's Pediatric Liver Transplant Program.
All of our transplant programs focus on maximizing quality of life for transplant candidates and their families. Patients who receive heart transplants at Children's Colorado typically have hospital stays post-transplant that are much shorter than the national average.
Shelley Miyamoto, MD, Director of the Cardiomyopathy Program at Children's Colorado, said the physicians who are credited with founding and leading our Pediatric Heart Transplant Program in its early years (Drs. Dave Campbell, Mark Boucek, Bill Pietra, and Henry Sondheimer) were instrumental in pushing care teams to think about how they could minimize hospital stays and invasive procedures.
"While survival rates after transplant are fairly similar across the country, what's not able to be measured is quality of life. The Heart Transplant Program is all about using non-invasive techniques whenever possible."
In addition to a focus on maximizing quality of life, helping families navigate the care needed before and after transplant is an integral part of all transplant programs at Children's Colorado, and the organization's transplant nurse coordinators play a big role in providing this care.
"The coordinated approach to care we take is a relief to families. It's almost like one stop shopping for them. We're able to optimize care delivery through our network," said Diane Dovel, RN, a Transplant Nurse Coordinator for both the liver and kidney transplant programs.