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 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 500 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. Some centers, including ours, also voluntarily report their congenital heart surgery data to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.
By proactively sharing this information, heart centers can help parents make the best decision about where to take their child when they need a heart transplant or surgery. Review our recent heart transplant outcomes below.
Our pediatric heart transplant outcomes
At Children’s Colorado, we share several outcomes for pediatric heart transplant patients, including patient survival, time to transplant and time that our patients remain in the hospital after transplant. We are committed to sharing these figures year after year.
Heart transplant survival rate
A heart transplant is a complex operation, and it takes a large team of medical experts before, during and after the surgery to make it successful. A center’s heart transplant survival rate can help show 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 several points in time following their surgery. We compare our survival rates with national survival rates, as reported by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR).
What it means:
Of the 25 patients who received heart transplants at Children’s Colorado between July 2018 and December 2020*, 96% of patients were alive 30 days after their heart transplant.
Looking at a longer timeframe with a total of 27 patients, 95.83% of our patients were alive 3 years after their transplant (heart transplants performed January 2016 through June 2018).
Children’s Colorado’s patient-survival rate 30 days after heart transplant is slightly lower than the national average. Our patient-survival rates exceed the national average at one year and three years after transplant.
*Data from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic are not included in SRTR’s dataset. 30-day and 1-year data: transplants performed between July 1, 2018 to March 12, 2020; and June 13, 2020 to December 31, 2020. 3-year data: transplants performed Jan. 1, 2016 to June 30, 2018.
Time spent on the heart transplant waiting list
Any family whose child needs a lifesaving transplant can tell you that waiting for a donor heart is 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, total time 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 transplant centers in our region and across the country.
Median time to heart transplant
Candidates registered July 2015 through Dec. 2020; SRTR data released Jan. 2022
Lower is better
What it means:
At Children’s Colorado, half of our patients were discharged from the hospital less than 20 days after their transplant. The remaining half were discharged after 20 days. This is higher than regionally and nationally.
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. Even after patients return home, we continue to support their well-being and quality of life through our Heart Institute Wellness Program.