Children's Hospital Colorado

Our Pediatric Heart Transplant Outcomes

We are one of the largest programs in the country treating patients with heart problems from before birth through adulthood, with exceptional outcomes.

Best Children's Hospital by U.S. News & World Report Cardiology 2021-2 Badge

Hearing that your child needs a heart transplant can be frightening. Rest assured that providers in our Heart Institute have the compassion to care for your child while they wait for a donor and the expertise to help them achieve their best health – both before and after their transplant.

At Children’s Hospital Colorado, our Pediatric Heart Transplant Program is one of the largest and most experienced in the world. As leaders in heart transplantation for infants, children, adolescents and teens, our heart transplant survival rates are among the best anywhere.

Thanks to the generosity of donor families and the expertise of our cardiology team, we’ve performed more than 490 heart transplants since 1990.

What are pediatric heart transplant outcomes?

In healthcare, the term “outcomes” means “success rates.” Pediatric transplant centers report their transplant data, including their heart transplant outcomes, to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

By proactively sharing this information, transplant centers can help parents make the best decision about where to take their child when they need a heart transplant.

Our pediatric heart transplant outcomes

At Children’s Colorado, we share a number of outcomes for pediatric heart transplant patients, including heart transplant survival, time to transplant and time that our patients remain in the hospital after transplant.

Heart transplant survival rate

A heart transplant is a complex operation, and it takes a large team of medical professionals before, during and after the surgery to make it successful. A center’s heart transplant survival rate can help illustrate whether the operation went well and whether the patient received optimal care throughout the transplant process.

What we measure:

Also referred to as patient survival, heart transplant survival measures whether patients are alive at a point in time following their surgery. We compare our survival rates with national survival rates, as reported by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR).

Graph comparing the pediatric heart transplant survival rate at Children’s Colorado and nationally. 30-day survival: Children’s Colorado = 100% (n=28), National = 97.8%; 1-year survival: Children’s Colorado = 100% (n=28), National = 93.2%. Data from July 2016 through Dec. 2018. Data released Jan. 2020

What it means:

All patients who received heart transplants at Children’s Colorado during this time period were alive 30 days and 365 days after their operation. This is better than the national average. In fact, only a few other pediatric transplant centers in the nation have a 100% 1-year heart transplant survival rate.

Time spent on the heart transplant waiting list

As any family awaiting a lifesaving transplant knows, waiting for a donor heart can be difficult. While we cannot predict the timing of your child’s heart transplant, we do have state-of-the-art ventricular assist devices that help many children while they wait on the transplant list.

Time spent waiting for a transplant depends on a complex number of factors, including how well your child matches the donor (blood type, organ size, etc.), how sick they are, their time spent on the waiting list, how many donors are available in the local area and their ability to receive a transplant immediately. In Colorado, we are fortunate to have a high percentage of registered organ donors as well as a high percentage of families who authorize donation when their family member is not registered or is under age 18.

One way to compare time on the waiting list by transplant center is a measure called “median time to transplant.”

What we measure:

Median time to transplant measures the midpoint (middle) value in days that patients waited for a heart from a deceased donor. Below we compare Children’s Colorado with other pediatric transplant centers in our region and across the country.

Graph comparing the median time to transplant at Children’s Colorado, regionally and nationally. Median time to transplant: Children’s Colorado = 3.2 months, Regional = 6.8 months, National = 8.0 months. Candidates July 2013 through Dec. 2018. Data released Jan. 2020

What it means:

This means half of our patients waited less than 3.2 months while the other half waited more than 3.2 months. Our patients spend less time waiting for a heart transplant than patients at other pediatric transplant centers.

Thanks to our robust program and excellent care, our patients also tend to spend less time in the hospital following a heart transplant.

Time spent in the hospital after a heart transplant

After a successful heart transplant, our goal is to get your child home and back to a normal schedule as soon as possible. Another way to evaluate pediatric transplant centers is to compare the time patients spend in the hospital after their transplant.

What we measure:

Median time in hospital measures the midpoint (middle) value in days that patients remain hospitalized following their heart transplant.

Graph comparing the median time in the hospital at Children’s Colorado, regionally and nationally. Median time in hospital post-transplant: Children’s Colorado = 12 days, Regional = 16 days, National = 17 days. Data from July 2018 through June 2019. Data released Jan. 2020

What it means:

At Children’s Colorado, half of our patients were discharged from the hospital less than 12 days after their transplant while the other half were discharged after 12 days. When compared to the national and regional medians, our patients spend less time in the hospital recovering after heart transplant surgery.

How we’re improving care for kids who need heart transplants

Each heart transplant patient is unique. That’s why we keep careful track of their condition and provide individualized care before and after their heart transplant.

At Children’s Colorado, our Heart Transplant Program includes a multidisciplinary team of cardiac transplant specialists and surgeons who partner with dedicated transplant pharmacists, psychologists, social workers, child life specialists and other team members to provide the best possible care for your child. This team works together to treat not only their heart condition and physical health but their mental and emotional needs, as well.

We also provide cardiac rehabilitative services that help heart transplant recipients get back to good health and normal childhood activities sooner. Even after patients return home, we continue to support their well-being and quality of life through our Heart Institute Wellness Program.

Learn even more about our quality and patient safety standards and cardiac surgery outcomes at the Heart Institute.

For questions about outcomes data, please call 720-777-3218.